THIS MONTH'S WINNER: Livia Rice, kindergarten teacher at Hopi Elementary

NOMINATED BY: Linda Manywounds

This is your second time winning Teachers We Love. How does it feel? 

It feels awesome. There are a lot of fantastic teachers in this complex. What an honor to win twice amongst all of these great educators. I was so surprised when I was presented with the award again.  

What inspired you to become a teacher? 

I was a daydreamer when I was a kid so school was pretty hard for me. I never dreamed of being a teacher when I was little, but got interested in teaching after I had to spend some observation time in an elementary classroom for one of my college courses. I loved the energy and the honesty of the kids. I was hooked after that and enrolled in the School of Education at my college the next day.  

What is your favorite part about teaching at this level? 

I have been teaching kindergarten for 20 years. There are many things I love about this grade, but what I love most is the progress I get to see each year. When the students come to kindergarten, they cannot walk in a line, have about a five-minute attention span, constantly want to know when it’s lunch time, and always “miss their moms.” 

But by the end of the year, these same kids are fluent or emergent readers, writing complete sentences, can count to 100 and can walk in a line. Seeing that transformation in 180 days is just the best part of my job. It’s exhausting, but it is the best.  

How does it feel to be teaching on a brand-new campus? 

It is awesome. The last building under construction just opened. It has been a long process, but it was worth it. I miss the design of the old campus, but the true spirit of Hopi is the students, staff, parents and the community. 

Have you always taught at Hopi Elementary? 

I also worked at Tavan Elementary for eight years. This is my 12th year at Hopi and I have loved every minute of it.  

What unique teaching styles do you use? 

I am excited for these kids to learn so

I bring that excitement into everything I teach. I am loud and animated. I have a lot of energy and work really hard to get all of my students engaged. If you show the kids you are excited about teaching then they will be excited about learning.  

Where did you grow up? 

I am from Raleigh, North Carolina. After I graduated from college, I taught for one year in North Carolina then I moved to Arizona. 

I commuted to the Arcadia neighborhood for over 16 years. I loved the area so much that I didn’t mind the traveling. I also brought both of my kids to Arcadia for school. They both went to Hopi and now my daughter is at Ingleside and my son is at Arcadia. My family just moved into the area last year and we are thrilled to be here.