Sarah Lentz, kindergarten teacher at the Barrows School, was voted our Person of the Year for 2012. She won with 51 votes.
Lentz grew up in Andover and graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in speech and language pathology. She also has a master's degree in early childhood education from Salem State.
Her mom was a kindergarten teacher, which was an inspiration for Lentz. She really enjoys working with young children and thought teaching was a good fit for her.
"I felt like I belonged in the classroom," she said.
She began teaching at the Barrows School in 2003. She loves kindergarten, and says it is "the best place to be."
“It's just this magical year for them where they go to 'big kid school' and it's so important to build their foundation," Lentz said.
Kindergarten is a year to build a child's self confidence and to help them become more independent and self sufficient but at the same time to help them explore and be a kid, she told Patch.
Parent Jeanene Brickhouse said, "Sarah Lentz is so kind, funny, and energetic - she is amazing! After only meeting her new class briefly at orientation she knew each of their names calling them in one by one on the first day of school! The entire first week my son came home saying 'I have the best teacher ever!' Sarah makes learning fun and creates excitement in every activity. We are so lucky to have wonderful teachers like Sarah in our schools!"
Lentz recalls several great memories from her years of teaching, but distinctly remembers a lot of joy in the first day of school and a lot of sadness in the last.
She was thrilled about being named Patch's Person of the Year.
"As an educator, it means a lot to hear parents say such nice things and to know that they support you and appreciate your work," she said.
Lentz loves her students and the people she works with, saying that they all deserve recognition.
"I am truly blessed to work in such a wonderful town with supportive parents, dedicated staff and excited children," she said. "Kindergarten is the 'first official year of school' and I am privileged to watch so many children grow and learn under my care."
In her spare time, Lentz likes to read and run at the gym. She is also a new aunt and really loving that role.