CHARLOTTESVILLE — Suzanne Eischen recently was named teacher of the year by the Eastern Hancock Education Foundation. The foundation selects a teacher each year to receive the honor — past educators honored by the foundation have been Kim Lowe, Debbie Grass, Sherry Trainor and Charles Beaver.

The first-grade teacher at Eastern Hancock Elementary School was recognized during the annual Eastern Hancock Foundation breakfast during teacher appreciation week. The foundation presented her with a plaque and $500 to use in the classroom.

Eischen has taught at Eastern Hancock for a decade, but she also attended the school district as a student herself. She earned her degree from Purdue University and has taken additional courses through Indiana Wesleyan University, she wrote in an email.

She began working as an assistant at New Palestine Elementary directly out of college. She worked there for two years, then she stayed at home with her children until her youngest entered preschool.

Her child’s preschool had an opening, and she became a co-teacher and director at that school for two years.

“When my son went to first grade, I was hired as an assistant at Eastern Hancock for one semester, then filled in for an extended sick leave the second semester,” she wrote in an email.

After that, she was hired to teach first grade, and she has loved every day of her job, she said.

She loves developing a sense of family within her classroom and watching each child grow over the course of the school year, she said.

Eischen was honored and surprised to be chosen as teacher of the year, she said.

“I didn’t know that my principal, Mrs. Pyle, was describing me until she called my name,” she wrote in an email. “She could have been describing so many other teachers that are worthy of receiving recognition for their hard work and dedication to our students.”

Though being an educator provides plenty of challenges, like trying to incorporate state mandates and changes in standards while trying to help each child reach their potential, Eischen said she hopes to continue to grow and to seek knowledge to become a better teacher every year.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or rhatcher@greenfieldreporter.com.