Fairmont Private Schools’ Teacher Named a Top Teacher in Orange County

Fairmont Private Schools’ teacher Vanessa Patterson has been named a “Top Teacher” in Orange County by ParentingOC Magazine! Patterson was nominated by her fellow Fairmont Historic Anaheim teachers who recognized her exceptional skill and generosity.

“Miss Patterson won because she is willing to give to her students and her fellow teachers,” Campus Director Matt Calabria shared. “Her time is your time, which means that if you ever need anything, she is always willing to help out.”

Upon receiving the news of her win, the campus came together last month to surprise her with the announcement during their weekly flag salute.

“Miss Patterson is a very private and modest person,” Calabria said. “I [knew] that if I told her in person, she wouldn’t share it with others. I wanted her to be celebrated because more often than not, she is celebrating someone else.”

Fairmont teacher Vanessa Patterson named a "Top Teacher" in Orange County by ParentingOC
Patterson makes her way to the front of the crowd at morning flag salute after being announced as a “Top Teacher.”

Calabria waited until the weekly program was about to come to an end to share Patterson’s big win. Students and parents applauded as Patterson made her way to the front to be honored, but the loudest cheers came from her 6th grade students. Full video of the surprise announcement can be watched on Fairmont Historic Anaheim’s Facebook.

“It was a complete and wonderful shock,” Patterson said.

Patterson has been teaching 6th grade at Fairmont since 2011. She began working at Fairmont two years before as a temp in the Education Department where she taught teachers how to incorporate technology in their classrooms and lessons. From there she was asked to demo for teaching positions at all three Fairmont P-8 campuses before finding her home teaching 6th grade at Fairmont Historic Anaheim.

“Sixth grade is an interesting age because it’s still in the elementary environment, but students are at the brink of “teenagedom” and becoming junior highers,” Patterson said. “It’s a privilege to watch and observe sixth graders grow into themselves and become young adults ready for the next phase of life.”

Patterson describes her teaching style as one “with a sense of humor and [being] unashamed to make a fool of myself in front of the kids.” She utilizes accents, singing, and funny stories (sometimes her own embarrassing ones from her time as a 6th grader) to maintain a positive environment. As she says, “There is no room for negativity in room 29!”

Students in Patterson’s class are taught to cheer for one another and to take risks such as changing up their writing style or braving an oral presentation in front of their classmates.

“I believe children learn best with relaxed structure, which sounds a bit like an oxymoron,” Patterson shares. “I believe that at 11 and 12 years old, students need to have the freedom to experience autonomy and make choices within the safety and structure of the classroom.”

The positive and encouraging environment Patterson fosters in her classroom is a large part of why she was nominated.

“Miss Patterson makes coming to class each day a joy for her students,” Calabria shared. “Students give her so much effort and love because they are mirroring what she is giving to them.”

Congratulations again to Vanessa Patterson! She and the other “Top 25 Teachers” will be honored at the Top Teachers of Orange County 2018 Awards Reception on February 7.

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Shelby Wagner - 1st Grade Teacher Fairmont Historic AnaheimTop Teacher & Skating Champion
Shelby “My favorite part of being a teacher is the children I get to teach.”
  • Is one of the head teachers for the Fountain Valley Artistic Skating Club, teaching regional and national champions. She also teaches beginner classes every Saturday morning.
  • Every year, her students are amazed to find that their teacher has a life outside of the classroom.
“I love feeling like I’m part of a family [at Fairmont].”
Keira Kamath - 5th Grade Fairmont Anaheim HillsScience & Tennis Superstar
keira “I like how there are so many different specialty classes at Fairmont Anaheim Hills, like art, music, PE, science lab, computer lab, and Spanish.”
  • She would like to be a professional tennis player when she grows up, or maybe a doctor.
  • Loves dance and plays the piano
  • Her favorite class is science “because you get to figure out stuff, and I like to do experiments.”
Nicholas Aghaian - 7th Grade Fairmont Historic AnaheimKicking His Way to Med School
nicolas“The teachers and the amount of support they provide to not only me, but to the whole entire community here at Fairmont is probably what I like most about attending Fairmont Historic Anaheim.”
  • He would like to be a professional soccer player, or a doctor specializing in the field of sports medicine.
  • Enjoys basketball, piano, and soccer pitch.
  • His favorite subject is math “because I like to be challenged, and math is full of challenges.”
Gianluca De Gregoris – 2nd Grade Fairmont North TustinDancing Toward Greatness
dancing"What I like most about Fairmont is that I get to learn and meet new friends.”
  • He wants to be a professional dancer when he grows up.
  • Is trained in ballet and ballroom dancing.
  • Loves writing and creating new stories.
Nicole Heyman - Kindergarten Teacher Fairmont Anaheim HillsLaying a Foundation for Lifelong Learning
Nicole "The best part about teaching at Fairmont is being able to work with a diverse group of students who are all incredibly talented. It is amazing to be able to challenge students at such a young age and watch these children grow throughout the year.”
  • Loves camping, reading, and traveling
  • Her students love learning random things about her – like the fact that when she was in kindergarten she wanted to be Spiderman when she grew up.
  • Her proudest moments are the times when a student on campus is excited to see her, oftentimes telling her that she’s “the best teacher in the world.” “I live for those moments.”
“I choose to teach at Fairmont because of the sense of community, as well as the drive for our students to succeed.”
DJ Clovis - Music Teacher Fairmont North TustinRunning to the Rhythm
DJ Clovis “I get to work with amazing staff, faculty, parents, and most importantly, students!”
  • Teaches music to all grades — from pre-kindergarten through 8th grade
  • Coaches (or has coached) football, basketball, and Run Club
  • Plays bass trombone
  • NJHS Conflict Resolution Coach
  • He has run 15 marathons and 4 ultra marathons.
“The best part of teaching at Fairmont is the autonomy — being able to create a program that fits all of my students. At Fairmont North Tustin, I get to help with a lot of different activities.”