One of Jill Wallace’s earliest memories was sitting in her parents’ basement with an old chalkboard. She would teach her dog lessons as if he were in school.

One of Jill Wallace’s earliest memories was sitting in her parents’ basement with an old chalkboard. She would teach her dog lessons as if he were in school.

“I don’t remember wanting to be anything other than a teacher,” said the kindergarten teacher at Daniel Young Elementary in Blue Springs. “This profession is everything I dreamed of and more.”

Wallace was named the 2011 Blue Springs Teacher of the Year Friday at a special breakfast at the Blue Springs Central Office. She has been teaching for 16 years, 10 of which have been at Daniel Young. Prior to coming to the Blue Springs School District, she taught at the Little Angels Learning Center, also in Blue Springs.

“I am in complete and total shock,” she said after winning the award. “I definitely share this award with every single person at Daniel Young. I believe it is the best kept secret in town.”

As Teacher of the Year, Wallace will now be eligible to compete in the Missouri State Teacher of the Year program. After completing an application and interview, the finalists are named later this summer. The winner is announced in the fall.

“Mrs. Wallace is a very patient and outgoing individual who always has a smile on her face,” said Rachel Parker, a parent of one of Wallace’s students. “She challenges the students on a daily basis and provides them with the tools they need to flourish academically and socially.”

Wallace said she loves teaching kindergarten because the students are “amazing.” She said the teachers and staff at the elementary work together to make sure every student is successful.

“The students always love to learn and are never afraid to try something new,” she said. “I think the staff at Daniel Young are wonderful because we really are tight-knit, like a family. It is a team effort each and every day.”

Ryan Crum, principal at Daniel Young, said he has respect for all teachers who take on kindergarten. He said because every student comes in with a different knowledge base, teaching students at that age can be difficult.

But, Crum said, Wallace makes it look easy.

“In kindergarten, kids come in at different levels, but by the time they leave class at the end of the year, they all have mastered the skills they didn’t have before,” he said. “The kids grow in her class. She sets the expectations high, and the students reach them.”

Wallace said she is looking forward to the next year, representing the school district and promoting it as one of the best.

“I am already thinking to August and the speech I will have to make (at the first district staff meeting of the year),” she said with a smile on her face. “I am in a room full of amazing teachers. Each one of them deserves this award as much as I do. I am just shocked that I was the one chosen. It is quite an honor.”