Smiles could almost be seen through masks at Sunset Valley Elementary School on Monday.
That’s because Jessica Onyegam was recognized as a Rack Room Shoes Teacher of the Year. She was presented with a $10,000 technology lab grant for the school and a $500 Rack Room Shoes gift card for her.
Principal Marizza Marquez says she is not surprised Onyegam was chosen for this award.
"She is a very progressive teacher, she really believes in equity and keeps the whole child in mind," Marquez said. "She got this award because she has the courage to teach antiracist ideas in the classroom in a very kind and loving way so that kids can learn to be inclusive.”
Jessica Onyegam teaches second grade dual language and has been with the district for five years. She was nominated for the Rack Room Shoes teacher of the year award by a former parent.
"The kids are amazing,” Onyegam said. “They are so pure and make me laugh every day. Seeing that lightbulb moment, a kid that was struggling with something and finally gets it because they were working so hard is just so awesome to see and why I became a teacher."
Rack Room Shoes district manager Miki Nading said the grant is a way for the store to give back to the community.
“We're grateful to those like Ms. Onyegam because she makes this community a better place for everyone," Nading said. "We believe in the importance of being a good neighbor. The Teacher of the Year Award is just one way we've been able to extend this connection.”
Onyegam said the money received will go toward Technology and STEM activities and supplies at Sunset Valley Elementary.