For Carrie Ling, a Braden River Elementary School teacher, it was simply time to go back to work.
On March 7 at Manatee Technical College's main campus in Bradenton, Ling was one of four nominees for the Educator of the Year Award presented by the School District of Manatee County. The award went to Heather Anderson, a teacher at Martha B. King Middle School.
It might have been somewhat of a letdown for her students, friends, family and fellow teachers, but Ling was happy just to have been nominated.
“I’m very honored to be representing such an awesome school,” Ling said. “Going forward I'm going to keep doing what I’m doing with the students.”
So it wasn't hard to return to what she does best.
The more than 20 students who came to support her at the awards ceremony are back to business as well, said Ling, who is a fourth-grade teacher.
“I didn’t see it as a competition,” Ling said. “It was an honor to be nominated with all of those amazing teachers who have done so much for their students. For me, it’s all about my students.”
It might not have been a competition, but Ling's students took it seriously.
When Ling's name was announced as a nominee at the awards ceremony, student Caylynn Mansi lifted a gold star she had worn around her neck bearing Ling's name and calling her "Braden River Elementary's Shining Star." Mansi cheered wildly.
“I didn’t see it as a competition. It was an honor to be nominated with all of those amazing teachers who have done so much for their students. For me, it’s all about my students.”
— Carrie Ling
"She’s just the nicest person in the world,” Mansi said. “I just really love her a lot."
Braden River Elementary Principal Hayley Rio said in a video presented at the awards ceremony that Ling's success, in part, has to do with her work integrating technology into her classroom.
“She’s our technology guru," Rio said. "If anyone in the school needs help with technology, we go to her. She's one of the early adopters (of technology) that we have had on campus.”
At the awards ceremony, Bree Goldberg and her son Jett, a fourth-grader at Braden River Elementary, were among those who came out to support Ling.
“I know she’s a great teacher,” said Jett Goldberg, who also had another reason he wanted Ling to win the award. “I just love my school and I want to support it.”
Ling said the support she received at the awards ceremony was the best prize she could have received. Other nominees for the award included Richard Daenell, a teacher at Electa Lee Magnet Middle School and Mallorie Ray from Virgil Mills Elementary School.
Braden River fourth-grade teacher Nicholas Leduc, the Educator of the Year for 2017, presented the 2018 award.
He attempted to keep his speech short, but he had an important story to tell about all of the candidates.
"We had a dinner [the night] before the awards ceremony," Leduc said. "None of these nominated teachers knew each other. In the course of a few minutes, the conversations went from, 'Hi, how are you,' to their students. And they all talked about the different accomplishments of their students, and how proud they were."