Teacher of the Year 2022

Fox Road teacher Janette Schmidt honored with Stanislaus County civility award
Posted on 05/05/2022
Janette Schmidt

Two large posters greet every student who walks into Janette Schmidt’s fourth-grade classroom at Fox Road Elementary School. One reads, “I am so glad you are here!” The other says, “Kindness matters!” Schmidt regularly hands out “kindness tickets” to recognize thoughtful gestures or acts of kindness by the kids in her class.


Those are only a few of the many ways that Schmidt seeks to instill compassion, caring and respect for each other in her students. Another recent example was a coin drive championed by her students to benefit the children of war-torn Ukraine. A modest goal of $250 was obliterated when Fox Road students – led Schmidt’s class – raised more than $2,230 in a week to donate to the nonprofit Save the Children.


Schmidt’s influence and impact on her students was acknowledged in a major way Tuesday when she was honored with the 2022 Jane Johnston Civility Award, bestowed by the Education Foundation of Stanislaus County. It is named for the former assistant superintendent at the Stanislaus County Office of Education, who advocated for civility in schools and the community before her death in 2012.


Schmidt was eligible for the civility award because she also was one of 12 finalists for county Teacher of the Year. And though she did not win in the division for grades 4-6, she walked away with an equally prestigious honor and a $1,000 award at a luncheon hosted by the Rotary Club of Modesto at the DoubleTree Hotel.


“Janette is just an amazing teacher,” praised Hughson Superintendent Brenda Smith. “She creates great relationships with her students, parents and other teachers. She’s very deserving.”


It didn’t take long for first-year Fox Road Principal Jeff Persons to appreciate Schmidt’s influence on her students.


She constantly provides general praise as well as specific positive support to all of her students,” Persons wrote in his nomination form of Schmidt for the civility award. “I can’t count how many times she has told me, ‘I am so proud of my kids, they’re amazing!’ ”

Schmidt also is designated as a lead teacher among the staff, many of whom asked that she move to Fox Road this year from Hughson Elementary to provide guidance and extra direction.


“She constantly recognizes the tremendous talents of her colleagues and frequently shares praise and advocates for them,” Persons wrote. “One only has to see her spontaneously putting her famous chocolate chip banana muffins or other desserts in the staff room as a ‘thank you’ for all they do.”


Schmidt is almost through her 27th year as a teacher – and sixth teaching elementary grades in Hughson Unified – but retains all of the enthusiasm and energy of peers half her age. Her emphasis on civility and kindness has been a consistent thread woven throughout her career.


“I constantly talk about being kind, but the kids really came up with that rule,” she said. “I want them to learn to respect other and work with each other. They don’t always have to be best friends, but they need to show respect.”

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