The ExCEL Award winner in the New Albany/Floyd County School System is a teacher who is perfecting the art of teaching first grade.
Marcie Gilliam is a first grade teacher at the Children's Academy in New Albany.
And Wednesday WHAS11’s Gary Roedemeier was in Floyd County to welcome an extraordinary young teacher who has been in the classroom just five years.
Her principal says that even students who have the most difficult time in school seem to thrive in Marcie Gilliam's classroom.
At a school assembly, Marcie was seated in the bleachers when she found out that she had won the ExCEL Award.
Surrounding Marcie Gilliam is a group of first graders she calls the best kids. They are quiet, attentive, making big academic gains.
Her principal says it's like that every year.
“Marcie always thinks she gets the good kids, but she has some kids that in kindergarten were very, very difficult and she just makes it work for them,” said Principal Terri Boutin.
Marcie was listening to the school choir Wednesday when she realized the song was for her.
A short time after hugs from her students, Marcie was receiving the ExCEL Award.
Next was a $1000 teacher grant from E.ON U.S. for a teacher who says education runs in her family. And since entering the teaching profession five years ago, she's never been anywhere but first grade.
“I have kiddos that come into me that can't read and they leave my room at the end of the year, reading chapter books. You see huge academic gain as well in first grade,” said Gilliam.
Marcie is changing and perfecting her teaching style almost every day but it's the first few days that Principal Boutin says are the key.
“If you could bottle that and spread it out, the academic achievement across the world would go way up.”
But Marcie Gilliam’s world is seated on the floor of her classroom, and she's content to keep the center of their academic lives.
“It's just a passion of mine. And, in coming in, I just enjoy what I do and I think when you enjoy what you do, you want to put your heart and your soul into it.”