Jennifer Hagopian, a resource specialist for Edgewood Academy, was named the 2016-17 Bassett Unified and Edgewood Academy Teacher of the Year for her work in helping special needs and struggling students overcome learning challenges by connecting them with teaching methods best suited to their learning styles.

“By the end of the school year, I always want the students to believe in themselves,” Hagopian said. “I want to instill in them that they are capable of learning and succeeding like everyone else.”

Hagopian works in a one-on-one setting with kindergarteners through fifth-graders who are special needs, struggling academically, or having behavioral difficulties.

One special needs student she worked with came to school throwing tantrums, biting teachers and had difficulty learning in class. Hagopian helped the student by breaking down lessons into simpler terms and using different concepts to explain the subjects. She gave the student the individualized attention he needed to help him understand his lessons.

“We invested a lot of time and effort into making him feel that school is a safe and nurturing environment,” Hagopian said. “He is a unique individual. Through my work and the resource program, I was able to meet him at his level, and then work from there.”

Hagopian started her teaching career at Bassett Unified in 2001 as a third-grade teacher at Don Julian Elementary School. After nine years in that role, she taught eighth grade at Torch Middle School for one year. Hagopian worked with resource specialists during those 10 years to help strengthen her students’ learning in the classroom.

Hagopian was offered a resource specialist position five years ago, and saw it as an opportunity to work more closely with students on an individualized basis who had the most difficulty learning.

“I would not be able to do everything I do if it weren’t for the staff I work with. I’m so honored that my staff and my school district have selected me for this award,” Hagopian said. “We have a great group of parents, who are all very supportive of their children’s education.”

A kindergarten teacher instilled a love of school and learning in Hagopian, who became inspired to become a teacher. She wanted to create that same experience and passion for her students.

“Bassett Unified is proud to have a dedicated and compassionate teacher across all of our schools,” Superintendent Alex Rojas said. “Congratulations to Jennifer for all the hard work you and the staff at Edgewood Academy do for our students.”

Bassett Unified recognized outstanding teachers at each school site:

  • Don Julian Elementary School: Darlene Chico
  • Sunkist Elementary School: Lorena Rosas
  • Van Wig Elementary School: Marilyn Ramirez
  • Torch Middle School: Kevin Tunnell
  • Bassett High School: Omar Barberena
  • Nueva Vista High School: Cynthia Correll
  • Bassett Adult School: Louis Kreslie
  • Child Development: Kathy Ruiz


BASSETT_TEACHEROFTHEYEAR: Edgewood Academy resource specialist Jennifer Hagopian (left) receives a Bassett Unified and Edgewood Academy Teacher of the Year Award for her work in helping special needs and struggling students overcome learning challenges by connecting them with a teaching method best suited to their learning style. Edgewood Academy principal Monica Portugal (right) presented the awards.