HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — The love that Mrs. Laura Beth Rich has for teaching shows in the way she cares for her students. It's also shown by the fact she has been teaching Pre-K at Weatherly Heights Elementary in Huntsville for the past eight years.
"I love that every single day the kids come to school they're excited to learn and everything is new," shares Mrs. Laura Beth Rich, the Valley's Top Teacher. "We get to do lots of like art and music, and a lot of the fun stuff integrated with our reading and math."
Although the students are learning all sorts of new things in Pre-K, Mrs. Rich really puts a focus on how she can help them grow as people.
"I really want to build a relationship with each one of my students and just make sure that no matter what goes on outside of the walls of our classroom, they know that they're loved here and that I'm going to do everything I can to help them grow and feel supported in life," says Mrs. Rich.
"One of the biggest things that she does is she builds relationships with the kids," says Principal Karen Melillo. "And not only that, she finds out what each kid needs individually and she makes sure that her instruction and all the time that she spends with the kids, meets the kids' individual needs."
Mrs. Rich says she always treats her students like humans. She says even though they are young, she makes it a point to treat them with respect and truly take their feelings into account.
"If they're having a rough day, you can tell a kid 'You know, I have rough days too sometimes. Did you not sleep well? Or do you need something to eat? Or do you need to talk about it?'" Mrs. Rich explains.
Parents say they feel at ease sending their kids off to Mrs. Rich because they know they will be loved. Mrs. Rich also makes sure the parents feel supported.
"Our motto is 'We go the extra mile' and she really embodies that motto," says Principal Melillo. "She will go the extra mile for any of the teachers here, any of the students, or the families. That's just her kind heart."
Mrs. Rich hopes her kids leave Pre-K ready to take on the rest of their education career. She says her number one goal is to make a lasting and positive impact on her children.
"I see this as an opportunity that I can make sure at least every kid that comes through my door has one person that they know is behind them and cheering them on."
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