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Resurrection's Jennifer Baehl Named Teacher Of Year By Local Air Force Association

Local Air Force Association Vice President David Pfettscher, left, holds a certificate for Jennifer Baehl, right, as the association's president, Ron Axley, middle, briefly discussed the award. The Message photo by Megan Erbacher

Despite the brief return of sunshine and break in wet weather outside, Resurrection School Principal Theresa Berendes scrambled to find an excuse to get kids inside – without a fuss – for recess.

Jennifer Baehl had no idea it was all for her.

Baehl was surprised on Feb. 21 by the local Air Force Association P-47 Memorial Chapter when they named her the group’s 2019 Teacher of the Year. She received a certificate of excellence and a $250 check. Her husband, Russell Baehl, was also waiting in the gym to surprise and support her.

Students excitedly clapped and screamed for Baehl as she walked to the center of the gym to accept her award.

Baehl, a junior high science teacher, has taught at Resurrection for 18 years. She also coordinates the school's SeaPerch underwater robotics program, Science Academic Bowl team and You Be the Chemist Challenge.

Baehl said she felt excited, shocked, nervous and proud when her name was called. She said the recognition was a total surprise, and “very special” for many reasons.

“I love teaching, and it just kind of validates and makes you feel really good about what you do each day,” she said. “The fact it’s a military award is really exciting, and the fact I got it today – (when) it would’ve been my dad’s birthday and he was in the military – so it’s fitting.”

Berendes noted Feb. 21 was Baehl’s father’s first “heavenly birthday.”

David Pfettscher, Air Force Association P-47 Memorial Chapter vice president, said this is the first year the chapter has given the award, which “salutes a classroom educator who steers students toward greatness in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields.”

Ron Axley, Air Force Association P-47 Memorial Chapter president, said five people reviewed nominees.

“She beat everyone else,” Axley said. “She’s simply superior as far as her qualifications.”

Axley believes it’s important to promote STEM in schools, and he said Baehl strives to accomplish that. He said Baehl is now entered into a statewide competition.

Berendes said Baehl “puts 110 percent in all she does for her students and our school.”

“She’s got her hands in everything, and she does it with a smile,” Berendes said. “That’s how all of our teachers are – they’re amazing.”

The interaction with kids is Baehl’s favorite part of teaching.

“They keep you young,” she said. “They’re interesting. It’s fun every day to come to work. It doesn’t feel like work.”