By Samantha Solliday

    Moved to tears, a surprised middle school teacher known for her patient ways and engaging lessons clasped her hands together as district leaders chanted her name before identifying her as a secondary teacher of the month in Killeen ISD.

    Making their way up the stairs at Eastern Hills Middle School, human resources and Education Foundation personnel were excited to celebrate Vanessa Ortiz, a dynamic teacher new to the school this year and already making a positive impact.

    Peeking into the classroom, Principal Jeremy Key waited for the perfect opportunity before opening the door and filing teacher Ortiz’s room with supporters.

    The teacher was giving directions to her students when the group made a grand entrance into her colorful room.

    Standing as the group walked into her class cheering her name, Ortiz clasped her hands together and looked around, trying to figure out what was going on.

    Her eyes brimmed with tears when she found out she won the Secondary Teacher Spotlight for the Month.

    “She joined us this year,” said Key. “Her lessons are engaging and she has a wide range of capabilities. We are so blessed to have her here at Eastern Hills.”

    Ortiz graciously accepted her award, clearly surprised by the recognition.

    “I am so overwhelmed,” she said. “I never expected anything like this. I feel so appreciated.”

    Previously with the district for eight years, Ortiz stated that she knew that she wanted to teach, when she began college.

    For Ortiz, seeing the growth in her students is worth all of the hard work that she puts in every day.

    “To be a great teacher you have to have a lot of patience in all areas of your life,” stated Ortiz.

    “You have to have a love for learning that you can then pass on to your students.”

    Watching her students grow and seeing them begin to love reading is just one of the many rewards that motivates Ortiz to come teach every day.

    “Those one or two kids that call you mom always puts a smile on my face,” Ortiz said. “That’s a great way to start my day.

    “I am just so surprised. There are so many good teachers here, I don’t know how I was selected.”

    Ortiz wiped the tears from her eyes and thanked those around her.

    “Thank you to everybody here, this warms my heart.”

    March 20, 2017

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