It's becoming quite the uplifting and rewarding year for the Westport Community School System as another recipient has been crowned with a prestigious honor.

At Westport Junior High School is a young teacher who is a prime example of how hard work can pay off. As a Westport alum, I am proud to announce that Maegan Bernier has been awarded the second Teacher of the Year award from the Junior National Honor Society.

Bernier is a Career Readiness instructor for Grades 7 and 8 and is currently working on a master class curriculum that focuses on the foundations of proper researching that will help prep her students for senior high school and college. The class will also teach resumé and cover letter writing, budgeting and expenses (which was named "balling on a budget," as her students call it), mock interviews, public speaking, and finally, technical life skills.

At the young age of 21, Bernier is the very first teacher to receive the award with only a year under her belt. Normally, the prestigious award is granted to those who have served four years in the classroom, but an exemption was made due to Bernier's accomplishments and her great connection with her students.

"I'm just really grateful," Bernier said. "This year was crazy and to be given that (award), I was so surprised. My kids are always joking around by saying 'you'll be a cat mom forever' (due to her current relationship status, by choice) so when the balloons and chocolates came in the Friday before Valentine's Day, I thought it was a gag gift, but when I saw the principal, I knew it was something serious."

Bernier said when she heard the news that Daniel Marques, a teacher over at Westport Senior High, had also received the nod, she was very happy.

"He's my mentor," she stated. "We both teach the same studies, but on different educational levels."

I had asked her what her goals were in life moving forward and she said with confidence that she wants to be the first female mayor who wears leopard print on a daily basis.

'I love leopard print," she said with a laugh. "Students like seeing younger teachers as role models and I'm glad that I could be there for them, just as they have been for me."

She also had a special message for everyone considering how tough the past year has been for those in schools.

"Thank you to my students and peers for believing in me when I didn't, because being a first-year teacher in a pandemic, I started to wonder if this was the path for me, but they proved me wrong and lifted my confidence," Bernier said. "My message to every student out there is to choose happiness no matter what anyone says. I've had a lot of people tell me that I don't belong in education and this was exactly what I needed to prove otherwise."

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