CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Ashley Carter was named teacher of the year at her school in Chesapeake.

“Y’all picked a great one. I mean she’s amazing. I adore her,” said Micheal Ottley, Principal of Truitt Intermediate School in Chesapeake.

Ottley says when she goes into Carter’s 5th grade classroom, she sees the teacher is always on point. “She’s always hands on. The kids are always using manipulatives in her room or walking around doing a walkabout. She hits all different types of learning.”

Ottley can’t say enough about Carter. “I just think she’s a really hard worker.”

Mrs. Carter comes from a family of educators.

“I’ve always felt at home in schools,” said Carter.

She wants her students to feel the same.

“I just love seeing kids learn. Like, when the lightbulb goes off, they’re like ‘oh I get it!'”

Carter said she thinks it’s important to be a teacher because you’re building relationships. “You’re spending seven hours a day, five days a week with these kids, and it’s so much time, and just helping mold their young minds and give them confidence, and I think building relationships is the number one thing that need teachers do. Especially through the pandemic, these kids woke up at home, logged on to a computer screen, and were looking at our smiling faces. No matter what happened, they needed to have that, and that was a consistency for them.”

At the end of last year, Mrs. Carter learned she would keep every student in her class and move up to the next grade level with them as their teacher. She said when she told the kids, the room exploded with happiness!

“I think that’s one of the experiences I’ll always remember and feel, like, really appreciated, and that I’ve made a difference, and that they enjoy being with me so much that they want another year with me.”

Carter tries to make her lessons special by really getting the kids involved.

“I just try to get them moving as much as possible, and use their hands, manipulate, we use a lot of food in our classroom. When they can actually make things and use their hands, I feel like the content is more ingrained in them.”

In addition to her teaching, Carter also worked to get Truitt Intermediate named a Purple Star School for supporting military families and military children.

“They haven’t seen their dad or their mom in six or seven months, and that’s a lot for them to deal with. I think it’s important to highlight them, and how strong they are, and how resilient they are.”

Ottley says Carter has a soft spot for military families for good reason. “She’s got three kids of her own. Her husband’s deployed on and off all the time, and she still gives 100% to her job, and I’m just lucky to be here with her, working alongside her.”

Mrs. Carter also chairs the family engagement committee, sponsors the school’s cheer club, and has been a member of the PTA every year she has worked at Truitt. From the classroom to the community, Ashley Carter is the definition of an Excellent Educator.