Reaching every student in your classroom isn't always easy...
But one Hamilton County teacher wouldn't let anyone slip through the cracks.
Karen Elliott is this week's Golden Apple Award winner...
It's story time in Karen Elliott's Soddy Elementary kindergarten class, more than a dozen tiny students hang on her every word.
Elliott says, "They're like little sponges absorbing everything that's around them..."
The 30 year veteran teacher has spent time with other grades...But it's the kindergarteners and their excitement for learning that truly won her heart, "It's like a big celebration. They celebrate and I celebrate. We're happy about it."
Elliott's joy for learning, plus a desire to help everyone celebrate made all the difference for one little boy.
Theron Hudgins reads from his Golden Apple nomination letter, "Ms. Elliott saw right away that Russell is capable of all the mainstream academics required, but his social behaviors and inability to express himself get in the way."
Hudgins' son Russell has a mild form of Autism.
He's a bright little boy with an infectious grin, but Hudgins says without Ms. Elliott's help last year, Russell's new well behaved study habits wouldn't have been possible, "She was never willing to accept second best for Russell or from Russell."
Hudgins says Elliott wouldn't back down.
With research and perseverance she found the right methods, and even empowered others to help Russell learn.
Hudgins says, "She wasn't, just wasn't gonna take no for an answer and that's what he needed."
Ms. Elliott isn't shy about her excitement for Russell's success, but it's not something she limits to one student.
She says there's a way to unlock every child's mind and her job is to find the right key, "That's just the joy of doing it. Because you know that you made a difference and they're able to do that skill or do something that they've not been able to do."