SPARTA-A Sparta educator Roger Jinks has been chosen as "Teacher of the Year" by Wal-Mart in Franklin. Jinks, who lives in Wantage, has been a teacher for eight years currently teaches a fourth grade class at the Helen Morgan School in Sparta and was chosen by Wal-Mart after one of his students, Mariel Alisa Householder, nominated him for the award. "One of my classmates died in a car crash in December and since that time Mr. Jinks has been there for us and is always ready to listen to us when we are sad and upset," said Householder in her letter. "We chose Mr. Jinks because one of his students Samantha Stassi was tragically killed in a car crash over the Christmas holiday and we were impressed by the way he handled the situation and helped his kids through a very tough time," said Marie Pallitta, community involvement person for Wal-Mart. Samantha Stassi and both of her parents were killed in an automobile accident in December, and older sibling survived the crash and is currently living with relatives in Virginia. "In my eight years of teaching I have never had to deal with such a tragic thing, I wanted the kids to know that it was okay to cry and to feel bad but I also wanted them to know that they have a lot of things to look forward to and that they should focus on the positive things in their life," said Jinks. "I think that their biggest fear was that something like this could happen to them and I tried to explain to them that this accident is not something that happens a lot and that they shouldn't be afraid," he added. Jinks received a check for $1,000 form Wal-Mart for the Helen Morgan School and a $50 gift certificate for himself.