A middle school Spanish teacher is at the head of the class among Westport educators with her selection as Teacher of the Year for 2015.

Lisa Almeida, a Spanish teacher at Coleytown Middle School, was honored during a reception Monday night at the Board of Education meeting in Staples High School.

Almeida, 31, a Shelton resident, has been teaching Spanish to middle students for the past nine years.

"I just feel humbled to be nominated with the number of such great teachers in this school system," she said prior to the reception. "I get lots of support from the staff and the administration. It's just an honor to have been chosen."

"This is one of the best days in the school year," said Superintendent of Schools Elliot Landon. He said he gets the chance to honor those selected not only as Teacher of the Year, but all the nominees for the honor. "They represent all of our teachers," he said.

Landon, who said he hired Almeida, added, "She has a wonderful passion and was an idea candidate for the job and perfect for teacher of the year. Almeida has helped to revise the school district's middle school Spanish curriculum, the superintendent added.

In accepting the honor, Almeida said working with "such wonderful teachers and with the administration" has helped her grow in her professional life. "They have inspired me to do my best," she said. "And I would not be up here without my amazing students."

She said people ask her why she would want to teach middle school students. "It can be challenging at times," she admitted. Students that age "always have their eyes on you and notice everything, including what you are wearing," she said.

She said she tries not to take things too seriously and even has been known to break out in song in the classroom.

There are also humorous moments during classes, such as when a student will mispronounce a Spanish word or two. An example, she said, is mixing up tengo hombre with tengo hambre. One means "I'm hungry;" the other, "I have a man."

The bottom line she said, is "Don't take yourself too seriously." And, she added, always find something to celebrate.