Good teachers are usually good learners, and this year's HHS Teacher of the Year, Jessica de Araujo, is no exception.

Ms. Jorge, as she is known to students in her Spanish classes, has learned a lot about herself since arriving at Hendersonville High in 2005.

“When I first started, I didn’t really think I was tough enough to be patient with students and focus on the important things in my classroom,” recalled Jorge, a petite brunette who, at 5-feet-2, is shorter than most of her students.

“But the longer I’ve been teaching the more I realize that it’s really about the relationship with students,” she said. “If I can’t establish that and be authentic with them and be who I am in front of them, then they will see that quickly.”

Jorge is no 8-to-3 teacher. She is head of the Foreign Language Department and co-chair of the AP Committee. She sponsors the Spanish Club, the Spanish National Honors Society, the HHS Climate Change Committee, and the Young Women’s Study Group. It is common to see her in the halls with her 5-year-old son and 2-year old daughter while the janitors are mopping the floors.

“She’s very dedicated,” remarked Debbie Sheets, coordinator of HHS’s STARS counseling program. “Not only is she a good teacher, but the students feel comfortable going to her to talk about their problems.”

Science teacher Phil Colling added, “She genuinely loves this place and the kids.”

The HHS faculty chose Jorge for the honor: a clear sign she has the respect of her peers.

“She represents the school well and goes the extra mile,” said Principal Bob Cotter. “The faculty made a great decision.”

The honor isn’t lost on students, either.

“She is always there for all of her students, and I am incredibly thankful I have her as a teacher and as a role model,” said junior Paula Alvarez.

Jorge is humbled by the attention. She said she could happily be a full-time student because she enjoys being at school that much.

“I guess you could call me a nerd,” she quipped.

Article by Kevin Maravilla




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