During the annual Teacher of the Year luncheon Friday afternoon, a modest fifth-grade teacher from Jonathan Valley Elementary School took his place in the spotlight.

During the luncheon at the Laurel Ridge Country Club, Jon Serenius took to the podium as the 2019-20 Haywood County Teacher of the Year.

Surprised and humbled, he told the applauding crowd what an honor it was to represent Haywood County.

“I love teaching in Haywood County,” he said. “And it becomes more important to me every year. I’m just going to keep doing what I do — teach, and I will continue to love it.”

Before making the announcement, Haywood County Schools Superintendent Bill Nolte spoke briefly about Serenius.

“One thing I notice about this individual, is they are very consistent and very unassuming,” Nolte said. “This person comes in, and gets it every day and gets good results.”

“Sometimes there are hidden gems that we don’t hear about because they are too busy minding their own business and doing a great job,” Nolte addded.

Nolte identified Serenius as one of these hidden gems, and read aloud a statement that Serenius wrote in his professional biography about his accomplishments as a teacher.

In his bio, Serenius didn’t point to End go Grade test scores, certification or being a member of a faculty, but rather his contributions to education.

“What I feel is significant in how I might have helped education is more personal,” Serenius noted in the bio. “I hope I have shown fellow teachers how to take risks, trust themselves, and be creative in their teaching.”

Serenius is the type of teacher who creates most of his lesson plans after making sure he understands the concept, researching the teaching ideas and has thought about how it supports his future work.

“I consider myself a collector, and more importantly, a creator of ideas and activities that I mold into units of learning for specific students,” Serenius noted.

The Haywood County Schools Teacher of the Year runner ups went to middle school teacher Kendra Plemmons from Bethel Middle School and high school teacher Layna Cope of Tuscola High School.

Haywood County Schools also named its 2019-2020 Principal of the Year, which went to Lori Fox, principal at Haywood Early College.

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