All teachers have a tremendous responsibility each and every day, and not just to the children who find it easy to learn.
This Tools For Teachers honoree is truly called to her profession. We introduce you to Larisa Sweat, a teacher at Mt. Carmel Elementary in Madison County. Sweat works with children who have special needs.
In Sweat's class, the learning curve is different, and the lesson plan is student-specific.
"What we do is try to bring out the best in them, if they have challenges we look at it as opportunities," Sweat said.
Take Matthew Ray, for example. He struggles with autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD. But this past year, his mother Kelly Ray witnessed an amazing transformation. Matthew's speech improved and he even mastered his ABC's.
"Every child, to her, seems like the only one in the room," said Kelly.
It's more than that. Ms. Sweat has the gift of reassurance.
"Her big thing in every meeting with parents is to say, they are going to be fine," said Mt. Carmel Principal Deborah Smith.
"Just wants to encourage me that things will be fine, he will be okay. And that shows me that she has the concern of her kids, the concern for her parents as her utmost concern," said Kelly Ray.
That's why Ray nominated Ms. Sweat for WHNT News 19's Tools For Teachers award.
Principal Smith was delighted.
"Many times we highlight teachers in what we call general education, and sometimes the teachers that work with the kids with special needs kind of get left out," said Smith.
Not if we have anything to say about it. Principal Smith joined us as we surprised Ms. Sweat and her students.
"These folks are from Channel 19 and you are the award's recipient of Tools For Teachers. You are the winner of $319," Smith said.
"Oh my goodness," Sweat replied.
"For your classroom. You can spend it on your classroom, on your students," Smith said.
"That's great!" Sweat said.
The kids shared their enthusiasm with high fives.
"Every single day is absolutely a blessing," Sweat said.
A positive attitude Ms. Sweat makes sure is not lost on her parents, or the children.
WHNT News 19 would love to hear about your favorite teacher, coach, principal or aide. Nominate someone for Tools For Teachers.