Outstanding teachers advance

​March 17, 2016 

Outstanding teachers advance

Congratulations to three incredible JUSD teachers: Jason Atkinson of Ina Arbuckle Elementary, Amber Iest of Mission Middle, and Andrea Biggs of Patriot High.

Each has been selected from among 25 JUSD Teachers of the Year for consideration as a Teacher of the Year countywide.  The Riverside County Office of Education this spring will choose four Teachers of the Year for honors at the county level.

Fantastic work, Mr. Atkinson, Mrs. Iest and Ms. Biggs!  Your success makes JUSD proud.

Here is a biographical snapshot of each of the three honorees:


Ina Arbuckle – Jason Atkinson 

Mr. Jason Atkinson is a jack of all trades!  Not only is he an exceptional teacher, but he is the resident handyman and tech support guru at Ina.  As the site's tech coordinator, Jason is constantly sharing resources and ideas for technology integration.  His students learn coding with Sparki the class robot and share their experiences at events such as the RCOE Technology Learning Network and the CUE conference.  Jason can see an idea on Twitter on Tuesday and have his students researching and launching rockets on Wednesday.  He never stops growing and evolving as an educator!  He mixes the right kind of "outside-the-box" thinking with a positive attitude and growth mindset. Jason will always lend a hand to make something possible if it will help make a difference for kids.  He remains focused on students and never loses sight of why he became a teacher in the first place.  Congratulations to Mr. Atkinson, Teacher of the Year for Ina Arbuckle Elementary.


Mission Middle - Amber Iest 

Mission Middle School's teacher of the year is Mrs. Amber Iest.  Amber is an outstanding teacher who brings Life Science to life. Amber serves as our GATE coordinator, is a member of district NGSS science planning committee, teaches our Honors Life Science classes, and co-sponsors our after school Science Club. Amber uses all of the strategies she learns from these experiences and applies them in her classroom. If you walk into Mrs. Iest's class you will see students deeply engaged in student centered discovery learning. Whether students are taking on the role of a Crime Scene Investigator, a forensic specialist, or a famous scientist, they are learning about science through real-world experiences that they will carry with them throughout their lives. Albert Einstein said, "It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge." Mrs. Iest does this each day with her students. They benefit greatly from having such a thoughtful, prepared, skilled, and caring person as their teacher. Mission Middle School is proud and honored to name Amber Iest our Teacher of the Year.

Patriot High – Andrea Biggs 

Dedicated. Caring. Cheerful. Helpful. Effective. These are just a few of the words that one often hears about Andrea Biggs, Patriot High School's Teacher of the Year. Andrea wears many hats at PHS and even with all she has on her plate she is often the first one to step forward when something needs to be done or someone needs help. Since Andrea became our AVID Coordinator, our AVID program has grown from 7 sections to 11. The year before she took over, 75% of our AVID seniors were accepted to a 4-year college.  This last year 97.8% of our AVID seniors were accepted to a 4-year college. Andrea also teaches AP Biology, mentors new and student teachers, and helped lead our successful "Building College Futures" workshops for parents this fall. In addition, Andrea serves students and teachers across the district as our District Science Fair Coordinator.  It is for all these reasons and more that Patriot is proud to honor Andrea Biggs as our Teacher of the Year.   ​