CLOVIS, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Clovis Unified teacher is receiving top honors for her work inside the classroom. Liberty Elementary School teacher Stephanie Patterson won the California League of Elementary Schools State Educator of the Year in January.
Patterson says she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.
"I think I've wanted to be a teacher since the 4th grade," said Patterson. "I had a great 4th-grade teacher."
A Clovis native and graduate of Fresno State, Patterson spent 10 years as a teacher with Central Unified before starting at Liberty Elementary in Clovis Unified 6 years ago, focusing her curriculum on collaborative learning.
"We try to get them to debate with each other, to affirm each other, to respectfully disagree with each other," said Patterson.
Now a 4th-grade teacher herself, she's focused on setting her students up for success, taking the cue from campus leadership and working to implement the best practice with her students.
"I really want them to take on a sense of ownership and independence when they leave the classroom," said Patterson.
"When I research something and I present it to the staff, she gets it," said Liberty Elementary Principal George Petersen. "Not only that, I get to see it implemented. I read it in a book, I read it in a research paper, but she makes it happen in the classroom."
Patterson was nominated for the award last fall and was one of 12 regional winners up for the honor.
"Teaching is really hard, it's messy, it's difficult and no two days are alike, but I think that challenge is what keeps me in the profession," said Patterson.