Vermont's 2013 Teacher of the Year Jay Hoffman has seen it all at the Tuttle Middle School in South Burlington.
"From cutting wood to changing batteries in digital cameras and cabling, it's been a fun road," Hoffman said.
It's a road the school's technology teacher has been traveling for roughly 20 years. He started as the shop teacher and today he's sharing the latest in high-tech tools with sixth- to eighth-graders eager to get to work inside his lab.
"I am doing what I love to do and the key in life is doing what you love to do, and I can't help but be excited, I lie in bed with my eyes open dreaming about what we're going to do the next day," Hoffman said.
Tuesday, Vermont's State Board of Education honored Hoffman for his service. He accepted this year's golden apple surrounded by family, fellow teachers and students past and present.
"What makes Mr. Hoffman a great teacher is that he expects professional quality work from his students and his students execute it by themselves. He really prepares students for the 21st century and allows them to do these things on their own," said Neel Desai, one of Hoffman's former students.
Students say there's a lot more than his unique ability to engage young learners with the latest technology that makes him special. They're praising him for sharing his special skills that have remained constant in a changing world.
"I've noticed myself using those skills in high school a lot, leadership collaboration, teamwork, public speaking and all those sorts of things," said Riya Patel, one of Hoffman's former students.
Hoffman admits he's not sure what's next for his classroom and career, but says he's in it for the students and that he'll tackle the rest as it comes his way.
"As crazy as that sounds from a woodshop to a digital instructor, who knows what I might look at 10 years from now? Could be equally as ironic," he said.
For now, he's committed to bringing technology to life as he prepares South Burlington kids for a high-tech tomorrow.
Canaan Memorial High School English teacher Jason Di Giulio was named as this year's alternate. Montgomery Elementary School teacher Susan Zeineth-Collins was named as a finalist.
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