MADISON, Alabama — This week's Valley's Top Teacher makes sure her students feel safe and loved inside her classroom.
Ms. Haleigh Walden teaches fourth-grade science at Midtown Elementary School and she's one teacher that her students will never forget.
"When I first met her, she was super open to me," said one of her students, Zoe Adams. "I just thought, 'well, she's going the be a great teacher.'"
This is Ms. Walden's first year teaching at Midtown Elementary in Madison.
"Every day she comes in grateful to be here," said Principal Savannah Demeester. "It is obvious how much of a heart she has for her students and that really showcases anytime you're in her classroom."
Ms. Walden puts her heart into her teaching. She genuinely loves her students and her job. Right above her door, there's even a sign that says "you are loved."
"For me, the most important thing is making sure that my students know that they are loved and cared for in my classroom, and not just by me, but also by their classroom," said Ms. Walden.
Ms. Walden says that once you make students feel loved, they're comfortable enough to begin learning.
"She is probably the best teacher I've ever had," said Anna Anzro Nova Potava, another one of her students.
"She is really nice and I enjoy being in her class a lot," said Adams.
Principal Demeester said Ms. Walden is a great example of what it means to be a teacher.
"Once we get to their heart, we can easily get to their mind and increase the capacity in which they're able to learn," said Demeester.
"I feel like you can't really learn unless you feel like you belong, and that to me is the most important thing for them to know," said Ms. Walden. "Every morning during our morning meeting time, the students will hold up a one, two or a three to tell me how they're doing each day."