NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WHAS11) -- A veteran teacher of 41 years in a Indiana classroom has been named the ExCel Award winner and Teacher of the Year in the New Albany-Floyd County School System.

Cheryl Carroll has taught first and second grades at Georgetown Elementary School since 1981. Her classroom today is big, warm and colorful as she circulates among her second graders.

Allison Smith, who was one of Mrs. Carroll's first, first graders in 1981, said she was a little scared when she walked in that first day, but the classroom was so welcoming, it felt like home.

In fact, Carroll says she tries to treat her students in the same way she would treat her own children.

Today, her classroom was once again a busy place, and a little cluttered. But there was room on her desk for the Golden Apple, the new ExCel Award that she received in front of an assembly of 600 students.

The ExCel also includes a $1,000 check from LG&E/KU to help fund next year's second grade classroom.

So, how does a teacher with 41 years of experience face a new roomful of second graders every year? Carroll said she loves the kid and loves to be at school.

After a few days of Christmas vacation, she's always looking forward to returning to class. She likes the fact that summer is now eight weeks instead of twelve.

But no matter the time of year, Cheryl Carroll is always busy. She teaches everything from Sunday School to a Yoga class. She sells tickets at the high school football games and paints murals for her school.

Smith, her former first grader, now doing postdoctoral work at UofL said Carroll is one of those people that was born to teach. She remembers learning the love of reading in that first grade class long ago.

Carroll will soon say goodbye to this second grade class, but she said every year is new. There are new students, parents and even changes in curriculum. Every year, "it's exciting."

A present college student wrote in support of her ExCel nomination that Carroll was the most influential teacher in his life. He said, she was his first "real teacher."