“The bell that’s used to make special announcements at school is the same as the recess bell, so when the bell rang again, the kids had already left,” laughed Lindell, who teaches math at Excelsior Middle School in Byron. “But that’s OK; we got caught up … I have to say I was pleasantly surprised.”
Lindell is the Byron Union School District’s Teacher of the Year, a crowning distinction in a 14-year career in the district that has taken him from the elementary grade level to middle school – the place he feels most at home.
“It can be challenging and it’s not for everyone, but I have really loved (eighth grade) so far,” said Lindell. “For me, yes, it’s the learning and the teaching. But it’s also the fun we have with the kids, the day-to-day interaction and the catching up with each other’s lives that I really love.”
All qualities that make him such a worthy and deserving recipient of the award, said district Superintendent Ken Jacopetti. “Kevin has some of the highest results in algebra anywhere – not just in our district – and he’s been successful across the board with all subgroups,” said Jacopetti. “As I’ve observed him in his classrooms, his relationships with the students and his ability to motivate them is really something to see in action. He’s a great teacher and a wonderful role model.”
Teaching seems to run in the family. Lindell comes not only from a family of educators; he also married one. Wife Jessi – a teacher at Timber Point Elementary – is also a former Teacher of the Year. The Lindells have two sons – 9 and 6 – in the district and together the family makes the daily drive from Stockton to Byron.
“We’re a commuter family for sure,” said Lindell. “But we love working here. I like the small district in that you know everyone. And if you have a question or concern, you can go straight to the top if need be … Here in Byron you don’t feel you’re being caught in the cogs. There are so many great people here that are so supportive of what’s going on in the district. It’s a wonderful place to teach.”
Lindell was expected to be recognized this weekend at the annual State of the Town gala, in which Discovery Bay’s citizen and business of the year will also be feted. For Lindell – who doesn’t relish the limelight – the accolades are a little overwhelming.
“Well, of course it’s a huge, huge honor,” he said. “But it’s the typical story for teachers in that we’re averse to being the center of attention. This award isn’t something you earn on your own – it’s a team effort. However, it’s very humbling and very special and I’m thrilled to have received it.”