First grade brings a whole new world of challenges for little learners.
But for one Walker County student, the right teacher made all the difference.
Katie Parnell is this week's Golden Apple Award Winner...
For Cherokee Ridge teacher Katie Parnell first grade is the place to be, "I don't want to go any higher, don't want to go any lower."
Parnell's mother was a 1st grade teacher and the 9 year veteran educator says teaching these young minds is her calling, "They're excited to learn how to read. They're excited to learn how to do the math and every day is just a challenge and they're funny...they're funny."
Thanks to Ms. Parnell six year old Joshua Hernandez is rising to that challenge.
With Ms. Parnell's help Josh reads from his Golden Apple nomination letter, "She helps me sound my words."
Josh's grandfather Eddie Stanfield says, "He had trouble pronouncing certain letters and she's brought him a long way for it."
But that's not all... Josh's letters have improved and he says Ms. Parnell even taught him to count with his fingers.
He demonstrates, "One-Two-Three-Four-Five."
Josh says those improvement make him feel like a big boy.
He says Ms. Parnell help make it happen, "Her's is a very nice teacher."
Parnell celebrates every triumph in her classroom, "It may be something so little, that other people may not get...but they try very hard and when they get it they just... I mean it sounds so cliché but their face lights up and they realize that they've done a good thing."
Setting the right foundation for learning is the goal in Ms. Parnell's class.
Each one of these kids feel like one of her own and she says the payoff comes in watching them grow and understand, "That's when I know that I've done my job."