HODGENVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- First grade teacher Lisa Hawkins has been honored as the Excel Award winner in LaRue County, Ky.
The bleachers at the Abraham Lincoln Elementary school were filled with students who came to honor a teacher that has taught in the LaRue system for 24 years.
Lisa Hawkins was chosen teacher of the year after a rigorous selection process that includes essays, interviews and classroom observation.
She is the 9th teacher to win the Excel in LaRue County since the system began its selection process in 2005.
Mrs. Hawkins says she begins and ends everyday with a hug for every student and a reminder that she loves them. Karen Rice, a former student, who is now a fellow teacher, says she can still hear Lisa saying those words.
Rice says her first grade teacher is someone you can look up to, not only in the classroom but in everyday life. She calls Mrs. Hawkins a vital part of what the staff does at Lincoln, "make kids better people and better students."
In addition to the Golden Apple, the Excel Award includes a $1,000 teacher grant presented by the sponsors LG and E KU.
One of the letters nominating Lisa for the Excel, says for six-year-olds, she is a second mother, counselor and friend.
The Excel Award in LaRue County is actually a community celebration. It celebrates one great teacher and also the teaching profession.