Spending six hours a day, five days a week in a classroom with about 20 preschool students might sound like a challenge to most. But for teacher Shawnda Tyler, it's a challenge she eagerly takes on each day.
Tyler is the January recipient of the ABC2-MECU Teachers Are Heroes award. She was nominated by one of her students' mothers, Akido Goppy.
"She's very dedicated to her kids," said Goppy. "This is her passion."
Each day is a balancing act for Tyler, creating a routine for her 24 preschool students that combines learning and playtime.
"Early childhood is a whole other beast," she said. "For pre-k, they have a very short attention span. Preschool is more academic pushed, but they still get to play because that's how they learn."
To keep them engaged, she uses every resource at her disposal, like Leo the Lion. The puppet is a favorite among her students, teaching them how to sound out and spell words.
"There's nothing more rewarding than when they come in as pretty much a blank state. They can't recognize letters, they don't know letter sounds, and by the end of the year, they're reading themselves."
Tyler is so committed to her students, she has never missed a day of class in the 15 years she's been working in the Baltimore City school district.
"Pre-k is my heart, it's the foundation of education," she said. "I feel like it's my job to instill the love of learning and ignite that passion. If they can get it in pre-k, that torch will carry them straight through."
To nominate your favorite teacher for the Teachers Are Heroes award, click here.