November 19, 2004 – Posted at 1:54 p.m. CST
JONESBORO – It's often said that teachers have the power to change lives, and for one Region 8 instructor, she's being honored for it.
"She's a wonderful teacher, she has a lot of energy. She cares a lot about the students, just a very, very good person, and a great person to work with," said Westside High School Principal Barry Jones.
"I didn't think I would get it, because you won't know until you try. I was very surprised and thrilled," laughed Business Teacher Vera Leath.
Leath has been busy. The board certified teacher was named a finalist for the Arkansas Teacher of the Year.
"Anytime a teacher receives an award, it's a direct reflection on what our mission of the school is," said Jones, "Our mission is to educate these students to the best of their ability, prepare them for the future."
Ms. Leath is on a roll, not only is she a finalist in the Teacher of the Year award, she was also honored as the 2004 Radio Shack National Teacher of the Year. But Leath credits her children with helping her receive the honor.
"I like to get to know the students and I have two children who go to school here and that helps, because I know that grade level usually, and that always helps to know that interest and take that and use it in the classroom," said Leath.
"They seem to have a bond with her because they understand that she cares about them and it's more than just being a teacher, she's also a role model for those students," Jones.
Leath also receives a $1,000 cash award for being a finalist; something she says will come in handy at Christmas.