Teaching is My Passion Tiffany Bernier
Teachers are the unspoken heroes that help shape our lives at one point or another. On average, they spend more time with us than our actual parents and we owe a lot of who we become to the ones that leave lasting impressions. Every year, these humble individuals are recognized with various awards and accolades for their stellar service to their students. For the 2019-20 school year, Valencia High School’s Tiffany Bernier was awarded the Claes Nobel Educator of the Year by the National Society of High School Scholars. “I felt incredibly honored and humbled,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany is a mom of five children and holds a Master’s in psychology from Pepperdine University which she attributes her success to what she learned in this program. “I was contemplating becoming a teacher when I obtained my Master’s. I wanted to understand how kids learned, how they struggled with learning and this gave me good insight on what the social and development realms had to do with my profession.” For 10 years she has put that knowledge to work as a special education teacher. “Special education is dear to my heart. I am currently working on erasing the stigma that comes with being in these classrooms. I want all students to feel connected when they come to school.” She has carried this same philosophy across all her classes. In the last three years, Tiffany was given an opportunity she never thought would further her passion for teaching. “I never thought I wanted to teach psychology but when the opportunity arose, my first year teaching the subject was honestly one of my best. My students seemed genuinely interested in the material and it gained popularity.” During this year, she inspired so many of her students but one of them really had a profound experience that left a lasting impression.
The student has since graduated but felt Tiffany was well deserving of the Claes Nobel Educator of the Year. “I was excited this nomination came from a student of mine and was even happier knowing I was able to impact a student in that way.” Tiffany was one of 10 educators who were awarded for the year. Once nominated, the teacher is invited to participate, and multiple letters of recommendation are sent in by fellow instructors and administrators who have worked closely with the nominating teacher. Unfortunately, she was unable to attend the benefit, but she still remains happy to just have been nominated. “Things like these are what make me realize I am doing a worthwhile job.”
Today, Tiffany remains dedicated to teaching special education students and AP Psychology. She collaborates with fellow teachers to remediate the course curriculum and makes sure her classroom is open to all students. “I want students to feel like they have a home away from home, so I created spaces in my room for students to be able to relax in when needed which creates a good environment to learn.” On a given day, she gets students from all walks of life coming into her classroom to just be themselves. “My class is a place for everyone, if you were to come in you would see the most eclectic group of kids.” When she is not teaching, Tiffany is helping her students expand their ideas through various clubs and sports. “I simply cannot say no. If a student is excited by an idea and wants to create something new, I try my best to help.” For Tiffany her passion is teaching, and she will continue to be an invaluable resource to her school and the students. “I do not think I will ever stop being an educator, it is one of my greatest accomplishments and I enjoy being there for my students.”
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