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NORMAL, Ill. (AP) — The Illinois State Board of Education has named a high school English and literature teacher from central Illinois as its Illinois Teacher of the Year.

The board on Saturday evening announced this year’s honor would go to Lindsey Jensen of Dwight Township High School. She teaches advanced placement English, Shakespeare, American literature, drama and composition to high school juniors and seniors. State officials say Jensen’s colleagues described her as having high expectations and infectious positivity. Jensen says she believes “teaching requires becoming part of students’ lives and making connections that no other professional experiences.”

Jensen started as a teacher’s aide 12 years ago and is in her ninth year as a high school English teacher.

Illinois State Education Superintendent Tony Smith said Jensen “exemplifies teacher leadership.”