West Jones Elementary teacher wins Golden Apple award

West Jones teacher selected to receive WDAM 7's 'Golden Apple'
Published: Dec. 21, 2022 at 10:57 PM CST
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JONES COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - Before starting winter break, students, teachers and staff members at West Jones Elementary School gathered in the library and helped WDAM 7 surprise Mrs. Brianna Vento with a special award.

“I was very excited for her and I was emotional, too,” Stephaine Swindall said. “I was crying, we were all crying because we’re excited for her because she is very deserving.”

West Jones Elementary School Principal Mark Vaughn may have even invented a word when asked to describe Vento’s qualities.

“Her compassion, caringness, academic ability, (are) second to none and we’re really fortunate to have her here,” Vaughn said.

Vento was nominated by Megan Evans, a teacher at West Jones High School, who submitted a heartfelt message about the first-grade teacher:

I would like to nominate Brianna Vento (first-grade teacher at West Jones Elementary) for the Golden Apple award. My seven-year-old daughter has always STRUGGLED in school. She absolutely HATED school because she couldn’t focus and felt completely defeated every single day. For 2 years we have spent almost every night in tears (both me and my child) because homework that should take 15 minutes to complete turned into a 3-hour event. Learning to read has been a nightmare. Watching my child feel like a failure was absolutely heartbreaking, especially as an educator myself. We decided to have my daughter repeat 1st grade this year. Mrs. Vento has completely given my child a new outlook on school and life. She LOVES going to school and tells me constantly how much she loves her teacher. She tells me catchy, fun ways that her teacher teaches her how to learn how to add/subtract. She has given my child a love for school that I never thought would exist for her. Every time a school break approaches, my child says “Mama, I wish we weren’t out of school because I love school this year”; We now know that not all superheroes wear capes because Mrs. Vento is OUR superhero. She has been such a blessing to my child and my entire family. My child is not just passing... she is SOARING. I will be forever thankful for the love and care Mrs. Vento has shown my sweet girl. She saw potential in my baby and has helped my baby see the potential in herself. Please award her this VERY deserving award.

“There’s just a lot going through my mind when I hear things like that being said because one of the most rewarding parts of this job is seeing that students have a place to come and a place to come to that they love,” Vento said. “What stood out to me is that she enjoys coming to school, that she loves it, you know that’s our goal here is just to make a place that is inviting and welcoming to all of our students and just them coming and having a safe place to learn.”

Swindall said it’s easy to see where Vento’s priorities lie.

“She puts her kids first, and she makes her classroom fun,” Swindall said. “She wants her kids to enjoy school, to love school and to love learning and she shows that with her teaching.”

Vento says she’s surprised and extremely honored to receive recognition for something she truly loves to do.

“I think as teachers we all live for those little light bulb moments and then whenever we finally get to see those, and we get to experience it and we get to see a child go from not enjoying school to absolutely loving it,” Vento said. “I think each of us just live for those moments, those little clicks, those little light bulbs.

“It’s just really special and it just makes us want to keep going and to keep doing what we do and doing what we love.

If you would like to nominate a great teacher in your life or in your school, click HERE.

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