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Students say Liberty High teacher brings out the best in everyone

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Posted at 10:50 AM, May 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-03 12:19:25-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — It's National Teacher Appreciation Week. So we're taking time to recognize some amazing Clark County School District educators.

13 Action News anchor Tricia Kean is introducing you to a Henderson teacher making an impact in the class and hoping to make an impression for a lifetime.

"You can tell that she loves her job," says Liberty High School senior Ava Oneyoe. "She's just my favorite person, ever."

She loves her teacher, Mrs. Ashlee VanEss. Ava says she brings out the best in everyone.

"She is motivating us constantly and it's just, it's nice to be a part of something that you know she cares about," says Ava.

"Getting these kids all ramped up and filled with school spirit and loving being at school has been my passion," VanEss said.

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Mrs. VanEss at Liberty High School

It's a passion you not only see, but feel after just a few minutes with Mrs. VanEss.

"My goal in my journey here at Liberty High School is to create a culture and an environment where kids like coming to school," VanEss said.

She's put in 11 years as a special education English teacher. When we met up with her, she was working with the student council, a role she's held for six years. She was recently named Nevada's 2021 Student Council Advisor of the Year.

"It really does develop their character for how they're going to take on challenges later on in life... to be leaders on the college level, to be leaders within their companies," VanEss said.

She's a three-time finalist in the Heart of Education Awards. She's known to go above and beyond in order to put her students first.

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Mrs. VanEss at Liberty High School

She admits there are challenges. Competing for their attention and keeping students off their phones can be the toughest part of her day, VanEss said.

But then there's small moments when she says she's reminded it's all worth it, like running into a former student outside of school.

"He was like, 'I was rough on you.' I was like, 'Yeah.' And he's like, 'but you made such a big impact on my life,'" Van Ess recalled.

She says that's what keeps her motivated to give her all, today and everyday, when she walks on campus.

"It's really cool to hear those kids talk about, 'I learned lessons from you that I never thought I would learn in high school.'" VanEss said. "I believe in them and I want them to be able to believe in themselves."