Our 12 News A+ Teacher of the Week comes to us from Gilbert.

She's been teaching for 33 years and says she's “in it to win it!”

“I have a surprise for you… I’m here to present you with the 12 News A+ Teacher of the Week award,” said Highland High School Principal Melinda Murphy.

She made a pit stop in Jackie Haener-Figueroa’s classroom.

“I nominated you, because this year we’ve had so many conversations just about education and government and how important it is for your kids to be involved as citizens and I think you lead them with such passion for what they can do for their communities,” said Murphy.  

Murphy says Ms. Haener started this “Intentional Mondays” where she sets and intention and then her kids follow it through the week.

“I love that we’re offering our kids the chance to reflect on kind of their social and emotional well-being, as well as just learning about government, so thank you… thank you for everything you do,” said Murphy.

“It’s wonderful,” said Haener-Figueroa. “I’m one of those people that I love words of affirmation, that’s it for me, so yeah, I love it.”

Ms. Haener says she loves teaching and knew she wanted to be a teacher since 2nd grade.

“Kids are wonderful to work with,” she said. “They really keep you young at heart.”

Students says she’s passionate about teaching AP Government and has a desire for her students to be equally as passionate.

“I feel like we all have this new understanding of government,” said Hailey Silberfarb, AP Government student. “It’s like we all want to be involved and when there’s discussions going on, we kind of know what we’re talking about now.”

“She’s always trying to get us to vote,” she added.

Ms. Haener has a clear message for her students.

“I honestly don’t ever really care what their grade actually is,” said Haener-Figueroa. “I really care in two years, in five years, in ten years, in fifteen years, are they going to be educated voters and that’s really what I want for them, to be educated voters... to go out and do things that they’re passionate about.”

“We’ve got a lot of problems in this world and these people right here, they’re going to change the world,” she added. 

 She says getting recognized is an honor. 

“I’m so happy. Things like this never happen to me, so I’m very grateful, I really appreciate it and I love it, it’s great. I’m - yay!”

If you know a teacher who deserves to be recognized as one of our 12 News A+ teachers, be sure to email us at connect@12News.com.