BURLINGTON COUNTY, NJ (CBS) — The new New Jersey Teacher of the Year hails from Burlington County, and she plans to make the most of her situation for herself and kids across the Garden State.

Forty-year-old Jeanne DelColle, or “Ms. D” to her history students at the Westampton campus of the Burlington County Institute of Technology, had planned to be a lawyer, but switched to teaching in her mid 20s. And when she looks at her students, she never regrets that decision.

“You realize that they’re growing right before your very eyes, and you’re helping them chart a course for their lives and learn about choices. It’s miraculous to watch them blossom,” DelColle says.

She likened the competition to the Miss America Pageant: a lot of hoops to jump through, but she says it’s worth it.

DelColle will receive a six month privately-paid sabbatical, starting in January, to work with state education officials on how to improve things for students. Not to mention a rental car for a year, a clothing allowance and a ring from the teacher’s union.

Reported by David Madden, KYW Newsradio

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