Cottonwood Charter School’s Jaimie Fassett was voted the best teacher in El Defensor Chieftain Readers’ Choice.

Fassett began teaching 10 years ago after her daughters started school, and she wanted to continue being part of their learning.

“One of those stay-at-home mom things where I wanted to be so involved, I ended up seeing a need where I wanted to help wither students that were struggling,” she said.

Fassett started as a tutor at Midway but loved it so much that she pursued an alternative teaching license and has been a second grade teacher at Cottonwood for the last eight years.

“My favorite part of the job is getting to know each student and just watching them grow,” said Fassett. “You’ll hear it from every teacher, that lightbulb that comes on when they’re excited about learning. Just seeing that love of learning is my passion.”

One of her favorite parts of the job is STEM Fridays. Every Friday, she offers students a STEM project based on what they learned all week.

“A lot of times it is me throwing a whole bunch of recycled cans and boxes and plastics in the middle of the floor, and they have a challenge to build something. That’s one of the things that keeps me going is my STEM Fridays. It’s fun to see,” said Fassett.

One of the biggest builds is simple machine arcade games, where kids studying simple machines come up with their own idea for an old-fashioned arcade game. While the classroom is a mess for a week, the kids are learning hands-on and have a smile on their face the whole time, said Fassett.