Teacher of the Year | Jennifer Dewald selected as eighth Teacher of the Year finalist | SierraSun.com

Teacher of the Year | Jennifer Dewald selected as eighth Teacher of the Year finalist

Katie Fagundes
Special to the Sun
From left: Valerie Simpson, Michael Gelbman, Jeff Ridgel, Dave Wilderotter, Doug Wright, and Charlie Riley honor Jennifer DeWald as a Teacher of the Year finalist.
Courtesy photo |

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Fifth-grade Truckee Elementary School teacher Jennifer Dewald has been selected as the eighth Teacher of the Year finalist.

Dewald was recognized for years of dedication and service to Tahoe Truckee Unified District students. Truckee Elementary principal Valerie Simpson commended Dewald for her work in the classroom and for her contributions to the school as a whole.

“Mrs. Dewald is an outstanding teacher,’” said Simpson. “She creates optimum conditions in her classroom for teaching and significant student learning to occur.”

Parents praised Dewald’s teaching.

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“Jenni is the type of teacher I hope we all have had, that one teacher that you look back on and say … she really taught me something,” wrote one parent nominator.

“I firmly believe Ms. DeWald is exemplary in every way — this is what we pray for in a teacher every year of our children’s lives,” wrote another parent nominator.

On March 6, program sponsors Charlie Riley, owner of Truckee Hometown SEARS; Michael Gelbman, publisher of the Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza; Dave Wilderotter of Tahoe Dave’s Skis and Boards; Doug Wright of Mountain Hardware and Jeff Ridgel of The Office BOSS presented Dewald with a finalist award certificate and program sponsor gifts.

“Our community is rich with amazing teachers,” said Riley. “It is a privilege to be able to recognize another exceptional teacher.”


Jennifer Dewald graduated from University of California Davis with degrees in International Relations and Spanish and then went to work for Los Angeles Unified School District.

Teaching in South Central Los Angeles gave Dewald an opportunity to use her language skills and a chance to explore teaching and the learning process.

She utilized the Spanish skills she learned studying abroad in Spain to work with families from Mexico, Guatamala, El Salvador, and Honduras.

While teaching, Dewald attended night classes to earn her teaching credential. After two years teaching first grade in LAUSD, Dewald moved to Tamarindo, Costa Rica where she taught fourth through sixth-grade in a multi-age classroom.

After returning to California, Dewald attended University of California Santa Cruz where she earned a Master of Arts in Educational Research.


In 1996, Dewald moved to the Tahoe area with her family. They loved the mountains, and she was thrilled when a position opened at Kings Beach Elementary.

Dewald began working in TTUSD at Kings Beach Elementary and then taught at Truckee Elementary, where she currently teaches fifth grade. Dewald particularly enjoys her fifth graders and describes them as being a “magical age.”

“I love 10-year-olds, they are the perfect mix of young kid curiosity and maturity, sophistication and independence,” said Dewald.

Parents describe Dewald as caring, attentive and approachable. Parents and students praised Dewald’s ability to create a safe and exciting learning environment.

“She has the softest, most consistent temperament on a daily basis (rare), and addresses the kids in a business-like manner,” wrote one parent nominator. “They don’t question her authority — and she’s small of stature — but rather children appreciate the respect they receive, they trust her, and they love her.”

“She gets each child and she treats them with respect and understanding,” wrote another parent nominator.

Dewald loves teaching at Truckee Elementary.

She appreciates the diversity of the school and the opportunities it gives students to interact with kids from different backgrounds and perspectives.

“I love the realness of the students, the kids come from a variety of backgrounds and somehow we form a community together,” said Dewald. “All the students from different neighborhoods and backgrounds become friends.”

Dewald enjoys taking advantage of the opportunity to teach students that not everyone’s life is the same.

“Students gain an awareness of others, the classrooms here provide that naturally,” said Dewald. “I enjoy creating a community within my classroom with little people who probably would not have crossed paths if it weren’t for our elementary school.”


The Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza Teacher of the Year award is made possible by the following sponsors: Mountain Hardware & Sports, Tahoe Truckee Brokers, Tahoe Dave’s Skis and Boards, The Office BOSS, Sierra Nevada College, McDonald’s Truckee, Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows Ski Resorts.

Next time you are in one of their stores, businesses, or resorts, please be sure to thank them for their generous support of the Teacher of the Year program and their commitment to recognizing some of the many outstanding teachers in the North Lake Tahoe Community.

The Truckee Hometown SEARS-Sierra Sun/North Lake Tahoe Bonanza Teacher of the Year committee would like to thank this year’s nominators for sending in letters and emails supporting teachers.

The Teacher of the Year will be announced this June.


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