By Raiza Giorgi
Jani Lindberg of Solvang gets a lot of joy out of being a teacher, and it’s a job that constantly challenges her.
For her professional efforts, Lindberg was named this year’s Distinguished New Teacher. Her award and others were presented at the annual Salute to Teachers in October by the Santa Barbara County Education Office.
“It was amazing to walk onstage and see my family there supporting me. My sister who lives in the Midwest even flew back to see the awards. That was a special night for me,” Lindberg said.
The 2001 graduate of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School said that the path to her teaching career came from her time working as an au pair and nanny in Australia and Sweden.
“I loved working with my families and being able to teach (children) at a young age. I think working with kids just comes naturally, and even though I am not a parent yet, I love working with them,” she said.
Lindberg earned her bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Cal State Chico. She got a dual credential in Multiple Subject K-8 and Mild to Moderate Special Education at Antioch University in 2015, the year she was hired at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.
“It’s not all about academics but also personal interactions and learning how to be part of the community. My parents taught me a respect for education, and that’s what I hope to instill in my students,” Lindberg said.
She teaches special education and world cultures at her alma mater in addition to coaching basketball.
“There’s a bigger purpose in education and teaching kids to care about outside of themselves. That’s what I am here for,” she added.
In her classroom she teaches social skills, organization and study strategies and how to focus on assignments. Her students also focus on money skills, job applications and researching colleges.
“Some kids just need a little extra help in finding their way and needing to know real world applications, like how to balance a check book or apply for college,” she said.
Lindberg’s mentor, Stephanie Gogonis, wrote in her nomination that the third-year teacher is an amazing resource specialist. Gogonis wrote that not only does Lindberg have a good rapport with students, but parents appreciate her, too. Lindberg emails parents frequently and encourages them to visit her before or after the school day.
“I don’t want my students’ parents not knowing what their kid is learning. They should be involved,” Lindberg said.
Seeing her students succeed is the best gift, she said, because they have learned that hard work, asking questions and getting help is the best recipe for success.
Her students also teach her life skills of patience and understanding, she said.
“I am excited to see my first group of students graduate. That will be a thrill for me,” she added.
Aside from teaching, Lindberg is very active in the community,] and in The Ranch Church and loves to travel.