RALEIGH — Elizabeth Plotkin's kindergarten classroom at Fuller Elementary School was full of current and former students, balloons, banners, cards and a cake Friday morning when school began.
A group of first-, second- and third-graders came to congratulate Plotkin for winning Wake County's Teacher of the Year Award.
Plotkin, 25, who is in her fourth year of teaching, won the award Thursday night. She gave a brief speech Friday morning, during which she gave credit to the kids in her classroom.
She said she tries hard to know and invest in each student.
"Teaching sets you up to be a big role in the life of a child. In kindergarten, that's so obvious," Plotkin said. "It's the small steps that make such a difference."
Raised in Winston-Salem, Plotkin seemed destined to be a teacher at an early age, says her mother, Debbie Loftis, who was in her daughter's classroom Friday.
Whether at church or social gatherings, kids gravitated to her.
"People were asking her to sit with their kids before I would allow her to sit," Loftis said.
Plotkin says the emphasis on family growing up has made her a teacher who can communicate and help students solve problems while respecting others' differences.
"She's one of those teachers who really represents both the artistry and science of the profession," said Fuller Principal Chris Scott. "She's intentional about everything and wants to know everything she can about her profession."
Plotkin was named a North Carolina Teaching Fellow during senior year of high school, and was a member of the Key Club leadership program. It was through Key Club that she met her husband Justin. An alumna of Meredith College, Plotkin mentors Meredith students who want to become teachers.
She says as Teacher of the Year she wants to hear from elementary, middle and high school teachers about how students can best make transitions to higher grade levels, and advocate that teachers keep learning how to be better instructors.
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