CARROLLTON, Va. (WAVY) – Taking time and showing flexibility are two key factors that set apart an Excellent Educator from Isle Of Wight County.

“45, 50, 55, and then what happens? It takes a whole hour to get between those numbers.”

The second graders in Christine Brett’s class are learning to tell time. It’s something she also learned is very important to lead a class like hers.

The time to teach, to comfort, and the time to show her kids they’re appreciated. Her favorite nickname for her students: “lovebugs”. Brett’s second grade is an inclusion class.

“They’re on a pretty broad spectrum of where they are academically,” Brett said.

Some have learning challenges and some don’t, so Brett may need to take more time with some of her students than others.

“It’s a great mix of what it’s like in the real world. Everybody’s different,” Brett said.

She has logged enough hours in front of a classroom to fill 18 years, but she says she alone couldn’t find enough hours in the day to get these kids all the attention they need, so there are several teachers, specialists and assistants who are part of the team.

When some of your students have special needs, it’s the little victories that create the most important moments.

“One of my students who’s on the spectrum actually went to another child to ask to play with him the other day,” Brett said. “That’s a huge deal.”

She’s happy to return to the classroom after two years going virtual, and says it’s easier to get everyone on the same page when you have everyone in the same room.

“When they are excited about the topic, it gets me really excited about the topic too. I could not be prouder of this crew.”