For Mary Ann Holtzen, first grade is her first love.
That was evident when the Arizona's Family crew showed up at Copper Canyon Elementary School in North Phoenix to present her with a Silver Apple Award.
"Thank you so much. This is such a great honor," Holtzen said while fighting tears in front of her class.
She has been teaching for 21 years. However, Holtzen says first grade was where her heart is.
"First grade is so important because they need to be reading before they leave my classroom," explained Holtzen. "To me, that's my major focus, not only that they are reading at grade level, but that they love to read. I want to instill that love of reading. I know reading impacts every subject in school. If they can't read, they cant be successful in every single subject."
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Holtzen's student, Hayden, showed everyone his reading skills as he shared the letter he wrote to the Silver Apple Committee.
"Mrs. Holtzen should win because she isn't good. She isn't great. She's unbelievable!" Hayden said. "I feel happy in her class. She always helps me.... and she takes care of our whole class. She is fun and I love her."
Holtzen says it is a personal goal of hers to daily make sure her students know how much they mean to her.
"Every single day I want them to know I love them," she explains, "because if they feel loved, they'll feel safe, and they will learn."
Along with her award, Holtzen also received a $500 check from the Arizona Milk Producers. However, she says her prize is having an impact on her students.
"Just to have an important part of these children's lives.... hopefully, I have made them lifelong learners... and I hope they realize how important it is to learn all of your life," she said.
Thank you, Mrs. Holtzen, for being an outstanding teacher!
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