Jennifer Culver, a music teacher at Cuyahoga Falls High School, is the 2017 Teacher of the Year for State Board of Education District 7, according to an announcement made by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Paolo DeMaria. Culver, who lives in Stow, has taught for 17 years in the district.

"Teachers are Ohio's most important educational asset and are key to helping our students reach their full potential," DeMaria said. "The Ohio Teacher of the Year program calls attention to the good work our educators do every day and highlights schools that are creating the conditions teachers need to be successful."

The Ohio Department of Education invited all Ohio school superintendents to nominate applicants for the award program during this past school year. State Board of Education member Sarah Fowler worked with local superintendents to encourage nominations for the first step of the competition, in which each State Board district selects a Teacher of the Year.

"Ms. Jennifer Culver's dedication and enthusiasm inspire those around her to work hard to meet the individual interests of each student," Fowler said. "I want to thank Cuyahoga Falls High School Principal Allison Bogdan for sharing the many ways Ms. Culver makes a positive impact on her community, students and fellow teachers."

Cuyahoga Falls School Superintendent Dr. Todd Nichols said, "Ms. Culver teaches numerous music classes and directs instrumental groups at all levels. She is known for her commitment to students and also for her creativity and leadership in many district improvement activities."

Culver said the news of her award was a surprise. "I feel really honored to be honored by my principal," she said. "We have a lot of great teachers here at Cuyahoga Falls."

"It was really nice reading [Bogdan's] letter of recommendation," Culver said. "It's nice to be recognized for my work."

Early this school year, the state superintendent will announce the Ohio Teacher of the Year, who is selected from the pool of State Board district winners by a state panel of education and community stakeholders.

The Ohio Teacher of the Year will represent the state of Ohio in the national Teacher of the Year competition sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers in 2017.

District 7 takes in all of Ashland, Geauga Portage and Trumbull counties and parts of Lake and Summit counties.

"It's a nice way to start the school year," Culver said.