As central Ohio students prepare to head back to class, teachers will once again occupy a substantial portion of their day.

As central Ohio students prepare to head back to class, teachers will once again occupy a substantial portion of their day.

To recognize the importance educators play in children's growth and development, this year Columbus Parent and ThisWeek Community News partnered to find some of the best teachers that local school districts have to offer.

We're pleased to present the results of the Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News 2016 Teachers of the Year contest.

This year's winners-one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels-were among almost 70 nominations that came from districts all over central Ohio. These teachers were nominated by their peers, former colleagues and even students.

We took nominations on our website from Feb. 1 to March 17. Prior to that, we mailed letters to principals, superintendents and school public information officers to tell them about the contest and urge them to nominate a deserving teacher.

From the nominees, we chose 15 finalists and put them up for a public vote, which was conducted online March 24 through May 2. The top vote getter in each grade-level bracket earned the Teachers of the Year title.

Representatives from Parent and ThisWeek made presentations at the winners' schools during student assemblies. Teachers did not know they won in advance, and neither did students or most of the staff.

Winners received a banner to hang in their classroom, a framed certificate and $100 in Target gift cards.

Keep reading to learn more about each of our winners.