“Watching little minds work” carries special joy for Jennifer Singer, the New Milford school district’s new Teacher of the Year.

“When the light bulb goes off, it’s wonderful,” Singer said Monday. “And I’ve been fortunate. The age group I teach loves their teacher and their school. It’s such a nice age group.”

Singer, a third-grade teacher with two decades’ experience, learned in July she had been chosen New Milford’s Teacher of the Year by a committee of her peers and parents of past students.

Since the announcement during the district’s all-school convocation Aug. 20 at New Milford High School, she has received emails of congratulations from past students.

“They told me in July. I was nine months pregnant and I was called in to the central office,” Singer said. “I thought it might be about my maternity leave.

“I thought maybe I’d forgotten to fill out some paperwork,” she said. “Then they told me I was chosen Teacher of the Year.

“I cried and cried,” Singer said. “It’s such an honor. It’s

humbling, and at the same time so exciting.”

Superintendent of Schools Jean-Ann Paddyfote lauds Singer for being “a highly effective and inspirational teacher.”

“She has an amazing work ethic and she is a positive role model for her students and colleagues,” Paddyfote said. “She is committed to ensuring her students are excited about learning and they have a successful experience in her classroom.”

The veteran administrator added Singer has been nominated before for the honor.

“Her selection this year is well deserved,” Paddyfote said, “as she is a true champion for children.”

Since 2005, Singer has taught third grade.

Before that, she taught second grade for eight years, and her first year of teaching was with fourth-graders. All 19 years have been spent in New Milford schools.

She wouldn’t have it any other way.

“When I did my internship masters program in 1995 through the University of Bridgeport, I interned at Hill and Plain School,” Singer said. “From there, I was hired by the district, teaching fourth grade at Pettibone School.”

“I truly love working in New Milford,” she said. “I’ve been blessed with so many wonderful students. And it’s the neighboring town to my hometown.”

A Brookfield native, Singer and her husband, Adam, still live in the town with their 23-month-old son, Adam John, aka “AJ,” and their newborn son, James Brady.

Home on maternity leave until November, Singer delights in days spent with her family.

Yet she is ready to return to the classroom — this year at Sarah Noble Intermediate School, which now is home to New Milford’s third-graders.

“I still love what I do,” Singer said. “It’s really a bond that teachers share. Every day, every year, we’re together with our little ones.”

“It’s the most rewarding profession. Every year is a new beginning,” she said.

“It’s new for the kids and for the teachers as well. We all grow and change and discover together. I really couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”