Three winners were chosen from 133 nominations.

As any parent of school-age children knows, teachers play a critical role in students' education, social development and well-being.

In recognition of this, Columbus Parent and ThisWeek Community News partnered for the fourth year to honor some of Central Ohio's top teachers.

We're pleased to present the results of the 2017 Columbus Parent/ThisWeek Community News Teachers of the Year awards, which recognize three deserving educators—one each at the elementary, middle and high school levels.

We launched the project by mailing letters to principals and school district communications staffers to let them know about the recognition program and to urge them to nominate worthy teachers. The effort also was promoted on the websites and social media pages of both Parent and ThisWeek.

From Feb. 1 to March 15, readers submitted 133 online nominations, from parents, current and former students, colleagues and even family members.

Our editorial staffs reviewed the submissions and narrowed the list to 15 finalists—five per category. It was a tough choice. This year's pool clearly showed there are many excellent teachers in the region who impress and inspire students, parents and colleagues through their work in the classroom.

Readers voted on the finalists from March 27 to May 1 to determine the winners, who were recognized at awards ceremonies at their schools. Teachers did not know they won in advance, nor did students or most of the staff. Each received a summer fun prize basket (which included a family membership to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, tickets to the Columbus Clippers and Zoombezi Bay, a Kroger gift card and other items) as well as a framed certificate and banner.