ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (WJHL) — West Side Elementary Principal John Wright is quick to mention that kindergarten means “children garden.” This week’s Educator of the Week is tending to that garden, planting the seeds of success and watching her students grow into great learners.

Jancey Bennett has been teaching for the past 26 years. After two years at Bristol City Schools, she’s spent the last 24 school years in Elizabethton as a 2nd-grade, 4th-grade and now kindergarten teacher at West Side Elementary.

“I love teaching in the community in which I live,” Bennett said.

Bennett’s love of teaching started at a young age.

“My mom was a teacher. I think my whole life, I would set up stuffed animals and my baby dolls and pretend that I was a teacher,” Bennett said.

Her success starts with her classroom. Caring for each and every one of her 19 students.

“The number one thing you can do with these students is [being] very soft-spoken and loving and so it’s a very loving atmosphere,” Bennett said. “That’s the thing I try to tell these teachers, the number one thing you need to do is love these children first.”

“She does a terrific job at doing that,” said Westside Elementary Principal, John Wright.

Bennett teams up with fellow kindergarten teachers Amanda Barnett and Victoria Nanny to give all 57 West Side kindergarten students the best possible start to school.

“We do many activities where the students rotate classrooms with all of us, not just one teacher,” Bennett said. “I feel like regardless of whose classroom they are placed with, they are with all of us anyways.”

The teamwork and commitment keep Bennett loving teaching in her community for years to come.

“I’m starting to have children now who are coming to school where their parents I have taught,” Bennett said. “It’s a little weird to see those students having their children, it’s ok it’s part of giving back and having the next generation of kids come to school now.”

Congratulations to this week’s Educator of the Week, Jancey Bennett.

To nominate an educator, click here.