It was all hush, hush yesterday. A press release yesterday afternoon from Little Cypress-Mauriceville CISD said a press conference would be held Thursday morning and was top secret.

The word is out, high school/college chemistry teacher, Jane Dunn (who will be 58 Sunday), is one of only three finalist for State Teacher of the Year. The enormity of the honor continued to sink in after the conference.

Superintendent Dr. Pauline Hargrove said it is believed that Dunn is not only the first finalist from LCM, but also the first finalist from Region V. Research is being conducted to verify that fact.

School board president, Brenda Mott said her son, Matthew had Dunn for Chemistry. One day he said to her, “You know mom, if there was a ‘Teacher of the World’ award, I think it would go to Miss Dunn.”

“It’s what the teacher brings to the classroom that makes a teacher effective,” said Hargrove. “First and foremost, you have to love the children, it’s all about loving the children; and love your subject second” said Hargrove, quoting Dunn. “And that so touched my heart.” Hargrove spoke about family and teachers influencing student’s lives

Dunn learned on Wednesday that she was one of two LCM teachers named Teacher of the Year for Region V.  Patti Steele was also named as the Region V Elementary Teacher of the Year.

Dunn’s husband of 11 years, Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Derry Dunn told Jane, “Well if you go to jail with me, later we’ll go to Casa Ole’ and get a little dessert.”

“Big spender!” said Jane. She had no idea he was already privy to the info that would be announced the next morning. Today’s announcement was a definite surprise.

“Whenever your campus chooses you as Teacher of the Year, you know there is a possibility [of becoming State Teacher of the Year]. They have you write out a form, “What would you say if you were State Teacher of the Year. Your like, yeah, right, I’m not going to be Teacher of the Year; so when yesterday I was notified I was Region V Teacher of the Year, I was shocked,” said Jane. “It was really very touching, made me tear up.”

She doesn’t know the secret to her success, “It’s hard to say, be excited about what you do…I love coming to work everyday, we could have year-round school. I love it and I get a lot of energy out of it…doesn’t feel like a job. I have a rewarding life,” she said. “I’m not gonna retire.”

“It’s Fantastic,” said her husband. “I actually hired her, many years ago, before we were married. I was principal here. I gave her, her first teaching job–here. How insightful was that?” he asked. “She deserves it, she’s the best teacher I’ve been around,” said Derry. “I’ve been around lots of teachers in 33 years of education.”

The couple have five children between them, three of them doctors said Derry. “Dr. Mark, Dr. Todd and Dr. Phil, Julie and Sarah.

Jane’s father, Jerry Borel and his wife Jewel found out about the announcement Wednesday. “I hardly couldn’t hold it, I couldn’t say a word,” said Jewel. Jerry had only one word to say, but he said it over and over, “Proud, proud, proud.”

Dunn holds a master’s in chemistry from Texas A&M and worked for DuPont when she graduated for three and a half years.

She started teaching 4-year-olds at St. Paul’s Episcopal Day School. “I learned a whole lot there; with those little kids.” She then moved to LCM and taught for 10 years. Dunn taught West Orange-Stark for eight years, then came back to LCM for five years. While at West Orange-Stark she was named District Teacher of the Year.

Presently she teaches three Lamar chemistry classes and four AP chemistry classes.

Steele is the accelerated math teacher for Little Cypress Intermediate, a fourth and fifth grade campus.

In September Dunn will go through a series of interviews along with the other two teacher candidates. State Teacher of the Year will be announced Oct. 22 at a superintendents luncheon when all the Regional Teachers of the Year are recognized, including Steele.

About Penny LeLeux

Penny has worked at The Record Newspapers since 2006. A member of the editorial staff, she has "done everything but print it." Most frequently she writes entertainment reviews and human interest stories, with a little paranormal thrown in from time to time.She has been a lifelong member of the Orangefield community.