Northland's favourite teacher Jenny Bassett quit banking to inspire kids to 'lightbulb moments'

She's  the best. That's what Lucy Yovich says about her award-winning teacher Jenny Bassett.

She's the best. That's what Lucy Yovich says about her award-winning teacher Jenny Bassett.

Eight-year old Lucy Yovich wanted to thank her teacher for "being the best". What she may not have known is that Jenny Bassett could have disappeared into the corporate world of banking – but for a life-changing decisions to follow her heart into teaching.

With the help of Mum Debby, St Francis Xavier Catholic School pupil Lucy had secretly nominated Bassett as her most inspiring teacher.

Today, Bassett was named the Northland winner of the Favourite Teacher Awards, a partnership between Stuff, TVNZ Breakfast and Matilda, the Musical. The overall winner will be named on Sunday.

Eight-year-old Lucy was not shy about singing her teacher's praises.

Eight-year-old Lucy was not shy about singing her teacher's praises.

Lucy had just wanted to thank her teacher. "She makes us very happy and I love her very much," Lucy says.

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She told organisers how her favourite teacher, "teaches us to be hopeful and inspires our future.

favourite teacher banner

"She is very caring and loving and makes us feel really good about ourselves and if you need a hug during the day, she is always there to give one."

An observant Lucy had noted her teacher was often there after school "preparing our lessons for the next day when she could be at home".

She says Bassett uses easy ways to teach and makes sure pupils understand the subject she is teaching and helps them if they get stuck.

Jenny Bassett's class was delighted with her recognition.

Jenny Bassett's class was delighted with her recognition.

On learning of her win a stunned Bassett was somewhat lost for words. "I love teaching and wouldn't want to do anything else. I love the kids, the relationship I have with them and I look forward to those 'lightbulb moments'," she said.

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"Teaching is rewarding and I really enjoy coming to work, what more can you ask for?"

She had always wanted to be a teacher, but while at school was encouraged into business studies and worked for a number of years as a personal assistant in the private banking sector.

While doing her OE she met up with a lot of teachers and thoughts of a teaching career became forefront in her mind again. She enrolled at the Tai Tokerau campus, and because she had two young children, opted to take four years to compete her certification.

Seven years ago she took a beginning teacher's position with St Francis and counts herself fortunate to have been there ever since.

Principal Craig McKernan says, "We all look back on our schooling and remember the teachers who have made a difference in our lives.

"Lucy's nomination of her teacher is a lovely acknowledgement of a teacher who cares deeply about her students, is positive, hard working and leads with her head, her heart and her hands.

"Jenny is a deserving recipient of this award and we, the teachers, parents and children, agree with Lucy and are delighted for Jenny.

 "A colleague commented that Jenny is a 'gentle magnet' for children. Nothing is too much trouble, she problem solves, is an enthusiastic lead teacher of our school sport programme and organises lots of school events for children."


Northland: Jenny Bassett
Auckland: Bex Rose
Bay of Plenty: Scott Feisst
Waikato: Richard Lloyd
Hawkes Bay/East Cape: Janene Maloney​
Taranaki: Sue Gunn
​Manawatu/Whanganui: Heidi Lutz
Wellington: Matt Johnston
Nelson: Trina Wilkinson
Marlborough: Robyn Anderson
Canterbury/West Coast: Carmen Street
​South Canterbury/Otago: Di Anderson
Southland: Elaine Forde

 - Sunday Star Times

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