Julie McWaters says her students teach her to have fun while she teaches them the skills to succeed. Monday night, McWaters was awarded Teacher of the Year for Washington County, an honor her colleagues at Vernon Elementary say is well deserved.
She says the changes in her students are wonderful to watch.
"In second grade, they come to us from first grade, they have just started reading, so I like to see the big span from the very first of the year to the end of the year."
McWaters has been teaching for the past 22 years, 18 spent at Vernon Elementary. She says second grade is what she loves.
"I started out in the sixth grade, then my boss asked me to go down to the lower grades. I said, sure I'll try it, so I really love second grade and that's where I've kinda parked."
Taylor Young, a student in McWaters’ class, says his teach is the best.
"My teacher is good, she helps us do reading and math and she helps us do spelling and stuff."
McWaters was nominated by her colleagues at Vernon Elementary for Teacher of the Year. Dr. Bobbie Dawson has been the principal of Vernon Elementary for the past four years and she is very proud of her teacher.
"She represents the quality of teachers I have on my campus and teaching the students and caring about their well-being and education."
McWaters says there is something different about the staff at Vernon.
"One thing about our school is we don't like anyone to feel isolated and we're very, we do things together. Our team will go out and eat, we'll go to a movie, so we kinda plan our lives outside of the school too."
She'll keep teaching as long as the kids keep smiling.
"They teach me how to have fun, they keep you young."