Teacher of the Year
Deaf and hard of hearing teacher Jolene Berg named Teacher of the Year by California Educators of the Deaf
Jolene Berg always knew she wanted to teach, but not just in any classroom.
In high school, she had the opportunity to take sign language classes and work with a hard of hearing student at her school. She had found her calling.
“I entered college with a Deaf Ed. major and never looked back,” she recalls.
Fast forward some 30-plus years and you’ll find Berg inside her classroom at Actis Junior High School doing what she loves — teaching multiple subjects to her 7th and 8th graders who are deaf and hard of hearing using American Sign Language (ASL) and her own voice.
It’s apparent that teaching is not just a profession for Berg. She says it has always been a part of who she is.
Berg’s years-long passion and dedication has earned her a nod from the California Educators of the Deaf, which has named her as Educator of the Year. Numerous colleagues and parents of her students nominated her for the honor.
“Jolene is an amazing person and a valued member of our educational team,” said Angie Bertran-Harris, principal of KCSOS’s deaf and hard of hearing programs. “This is really a huge honor and it’s great to be a part of the community that recognizes the daily contributions of teachers.”
Berg’s professional and civic accolades are impressive. She has been recognized as Teacher of the Year at KCSOS, was an American Red Cross “Real Hero” honoree in 2008, has served as president of Kern Computer Using Educators for three years, is an active member of the of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Parent Teacher Organization and she just learned that she would receive a community service award from the Fraternal Order of the Eagles for her work with DHH students in April.
Berg is also a math tutor for KCSOS’s call-in math TV program “Do the Math.” She was instrumental in helping the program with the technical aspects of adding a videophone component to the program a couple years ago to allow deaf and hard of hearing students to participate.
“Most of my friends would tell you that I’m a tech geek,” Berg quipped.
Special education division administrator Julianna Gaines didn’t describe Berg in those exact words, but was quick to point out that Berg is the program’s resident expert in technology. She constantly assists others in developing their technical skills and implements innovative techniques to ensure student success both within and outside of her classroom, Gaines said. Video conferencing, Skyping, and on-line learning supports are all seen in her classroom on a regular basis.
Berg said even when she isn’t in the classroom, she is continually keeping her eyes open for resources to use with her students in whatever she’s doing. In her spare time, she enjoys coffee, traveling with her family, reading, watching movies, and being online.
Berg will officially be recognized next month at a luncheon in Sacramento.
“I was floored when I heard the news,” she said. “I work with many spectacular teachers. It’s humbling. What an honor.”