PLAIN DEALING, LA (KSLA) - No 2 students have the same experience in Charlotte Barnett's 1st grade class at Carrie Martin Elementary School.
"I love to watch the students at the beginning of the year become readers at the end of the year. It's a journey," said Barnett about teaching young children.
She knows just like the books on her shelf, each of her 1st graders is a little different.
"You have to find out what the students strengths and weaknesses are and plan from there," said Barnett.
"She knows her students, and reaches her students where they're at. She finds exactly what makes then tick, and what they're interested in and she uses that to build a common bond with them," said fellow teacher Leslie Alexander.
As she helps write the beginning chapters of her students' education, Barnett tries to make the story exciting. Every week she sends home a game or activity with each of her students, but they don't all get the same assignment.
"If the student is weak in reading, it'll be more of a reading activity. If a student is weak in math, it will be more on the math side. These are the words that he specifically needs to work on. That way his bag is not the same as somebody else's bag," she said as she showed us one of her activities.
When she can she buys flash cards and the things she needs for her games, but if she can't find it or if it's too expensive, she makes them herself.
"It takes a lot of time. Usually during a football game on Saturday or Sunday I'll sit and work on it."
Barnett is happy to put in that time because she knows if her kids are successful early on their story is more likely to have a happy ending.
Barnett won the weekly Golden Apple Award for teaching excellence. The award comes with a $500 prize from the sponsor, The Kirby Kelly Law Firm. She plans to use it to buy things for the games she creates for her students.
To nominate an Ark-La-Tex educator to win the award, click here to fill out the form.