Fifth grade teacher Sarah Hockersmith has been named Teacher of the Year and the Excel Award winner in Greater Clark County, Ind.
Hockersmith has taught fifth grade at Parkwood Elementary School for 13 years. And she says, she stays in fifth grade because she loves the age group.
The newest Excel winner has been a leader at Parkwood as the school was challenged by a more diverse student body. More than 50 percent of Parkwood's student are Hispanic and many come to the school with little knowledge of English.
Hockersmith, who does not speak Spanish herself, says she eventually can teach the new students to speak and write in English. Language arts are her specialty as she prepares fifth graders for the transition to middle school.
She anticipated the trend to more Hispanic students several years ago when she returned to school to concentrate on teaching children who must learn a new language.
Her principal calls Sarah one of the finest teachers that she has ever seen. And fellow teacher Todd Bledsoe calls it a blessing to be able to teach in the same school with Sarah. He says she raises the level of achievement for every teacher in the school.
In addition to her Excel Award, students at Parkwood have been cheering their teacher as she approaches another challenge.
During the past month, Sarah has completed the Triple Crown of Racing and now plans to run the Mini Marathon.
But in the race for education, Sarah has already won the Golden Apple, symbolic of excellence