This teacher of the year is getting results and sharing her passion for learning

Janan Hodges steps into new role as Bear Lake Elementary’ s instructional coach

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. – All month, we’ve been highlighting teachers and sharing their stories as part of our “Why I Teach” campaign.

This week’s Getting Results Award goes to the 2024 Seminole County Public Schools teacher of the year, Janan Hodges.

Hodges taught third-grade math and science at Spring Lake Elementary for four years. This school year, Hodges moved into a new role at Bear Lake Elementary.

Her new title is Math and Science Instructional Coach in which she’ll rely on skills she learned at the beginning of her career.

Days before the school year started, Hodges gathered with teachers and school administrators in the “Coaches Pad.” The group sat at a conference table. A whiteboard glowed from the beam of a projector.

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It was a chance for Hodges to do a test run of her presentation before classes start.

“This would be like a typical day for our PLC schedule,” Hodges said. “PLC stands for Professional Learning Community. Each Monday, I’ll be leading math and science training with our curriculum so that our teachers can perform their best practices in the classroom.”

Hodges started with math multiplication techniques. The group flipped through their teacher-edition textbooks to follow along.

“This is a new role for me, so it’s all very exciting,” Hodges said.

In addition to her instructional and teacher-leader responsibilities, Hodges will help coach new teachers as part of the school’s New Educator Support Team (NEST).

“I don’t look at it so much as I’m teaching them,” Hodges said. “More like, I’m coming alongside them and helping to guide and support them.”

The coaching role is familiar to Hodges, who is a former college athlete and started her teaching career as a P.E. teacher and coach.

“I coached high school tennis, high school girls volleyball, I’ve coached boys 6-12 flag football,” she said. “You name it. I’ve coached a lot of different things.”

As Hodges went through her lesson, a figure appeared to look on over her shoulder. A Dwayne “The Rock” cardboard cutout complete with sunglasses and his signature raised eyebrow was propped up in the corner.

“My former co-workers last year knew I was a huge Dwayne Johnson fan, so they purchased him as a joke,” Hodges laughed. “Then I realized I needed him in my classroom because he’s amazing.”

Hodges used the promotional prop as a learning tool. The likeness became a classroom mascot.

“I just think Dwayne Johnson is motivational,” Hodges explained. “He’s driven, he talks about working through tough times, working through your struggle.”

The cut-out became a fixture in Hodges’ classroom. She would have him appear to hold a variety of signs to grab the students’ attention.

“We change the signs throughout the year to grab the students’ attention and brighten their day,” she said.

He now holds a sign that says “Can you smell what the coaches are cooking?”

The school district’s Teacher of the Year press release states: “Mrs. Hodges is truly one of a kind. From her engaging and innovative lessons to her creativity in cultivating classroom rules using Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Mrs. Hodges fosters an environment that centers on achievement, high expectations and belonging. She is known for her unique ability to connect deeply with her students and provide learning opportunities that meet their specific needs.”

Kelly Mitchell, Hodges’ former principal at Spring Lake Elementary, agrees.

“She’s getting results,” Mitchell said. “I can tell you that Miss Hodges really is a dedicated and caring teacher. She worked so hard every day. She’s definitely well deserving of the SCPS Teacher of the Year title.”

Mitchell recalled how Hodges tuned the cardboard cutout into a learning tool.

“She was so creative and fun in her classroom. And she was always doing things to keep the kids excited and keep the kids motivated. And that just kind of became an ongoing source of fun and enjoyment.”

“This has been an amazing roller coaster ride,” Hodges said, reflecting on the last few months since the teacher of the year announcement. “I’ve been able to meet teachers from all over the county and state. I was able to learn from these other teachers to hopefully make myself a better teacher.”

About the Author:

Paul is a Florida native who graduated from the University of Central Florida. As a multimedia journalist, Paul enjoys profiling the people and places that make Central Florida unique.