Kelly Jean Hanock knew she wanted to be a teacher when she saw her 10th-grade teacher in action, and she never wavered from that dream. Now, 13 years into her career, she has been honored as one of the state’s five teachers of the year, announced Thursday by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell. “My 10th-grade teacher was really inspiring and had so much fun teaching, I knew it was a job I wanted to do,” said Hanock, 44, who teaches English-language arts at James Monroe High School in North Hills. “And it’s just as great as she made it look all those years ago.” Monroe Principal Lynda Schwarz called Hanock a “positive force” who has helped shape the school. She has taken a lead in helping transform Monroe into small learning communities – breaking up the school of 4,700 students into nine campuses of about 500 each. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREWalnut’s Malik Khouzam voted Southern California Boys Athlete of the Week “She’s not afraid to get out there and become a model, she’s not afraid to share and she’s just grown so much,” Schwarz said. “She just shines by example. If you actually do what you teach and become successful at it, you become a role model.” In a prepared statement, O’Connell said he chose the five teachers for the Golden Apple award because they “exhibited such extraordinary joy in teaching that their students loved learning from them. They set a wonderful example that I hope will draw more highly qualified teachers into this field.” The best part of her job, Hanock said, is getting immediate feedback from the students, seeing their progress and working with creative people. The key to being an effective teacher, she said, is creating an environment for students to comfortably share their ideas, and letting go of some of the control. And there’s nothing wrong with having a little fun. When she lost a bet that she could beat the entire class in a Boggle tournament, she did exactly what they wanted: She dressed as rapper Ludacris, even though she had no idea who he was. She wore baggy, low-hanging jeans, a black T-shirt, a necklace with a silver-painted doll and a black Afro wig. Student Myrna Flores has loved being Hanock’s student for two years because she feels comfortable being herself in class and she’s able to get emotional and academic support from her any time. “You don’t have to be afraid of raising your hand and saying something, because you’re not going to be judged,” said the 17-year-old senior, who’s in Hanock’s Advanced Placement English class. “If we’re behind, she pulls us up and we can contact her at any time and she helps us. She gives up her time to help us.” Naush Boghossian, (818) 713-3722 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!