CAVE CITY, AR (KAIT) - February's teacher of the month comes from Sharp County and teaches the youngest students at Cave City Elementary.
While her Disney-themed classroom is full of fun, Candice Thorne doesn't take her job lightly.
"They are just little adults," Thorne said.
Thorne is a Cave City graduate and attended Lyon College.
She started her teaching career at Sulphur Rock with 4th grade.
Thorne then returned to her alma mater to teach kindergarten at Cave City.
When teaching her students to spell and count, Thorne said she uses whatever method her students need to best learn the material.
"There's a lot of hands-on, as you can see with the bumpy screens, and the skywriting, and all those things, so it helps all different learning modalities," Thorne said.
Standing in the hallway, you can hear Thorne's students excitedly spell their words and practice their math problems.
Even though learning comes first, Thorne said what she teaches goes beyond letters and numbers.
"We teach morals and how to be good people, and I think this is where it starts," Thorne said. "They remember those things."
In her 12 years of teaching, Thorne is known for doing a community service project each year.
Normally her classroom sponsors children from an angel tree, but this school year Thorne wanted to honor someone close to the Cave City Elementary family.
"It started small and ended quite large," Thorne said.
Thorne created Millie's Magic in honor of another Cave City teacher's daughter who passed away.
The class raised money and brought in donated toys to give to Arkansas Children's Hospital.
"So many of them already knew the family, and they have big hearts even for little people," Thorne said.
After raising $3,000 and filling the hallway full of toys, Thorne said they took a trailer load of toys to the children's hospital.
Thorne said while they do these projects to help others, she believes it also helps her students.
"I think sometimes some of them don't get that opportunity, necessarily, to know how that feels, and they were so proud of themselves and worked really hard to do everything they did," Thorne said.
She's impressed every year with how students step up.
"One little girl brought her money in and said I cleaned out my whole piggy bank and dumped it into the Millie's Magic bucket," Thorn said.
When Region 8 News surprised Thorne in her classroom, she was nearly speechless but thanked everyone for honoring teachers and the work they do.
A parent nominated Thorne for her ability to teach their son letters and encourage him to want to go to school while also giving back to the community in multiple ways.
It's all part of Thorne's mission as a teacher, to make a difference and make dreams come true.
A mission that is written all over her classroom walls.
"I try to work in as many positive quotes from Disney movies because there are so many good lessons learned through Disney movies," Thorne said.
From a Tangled castle, Nemo and Dory, Buzz and Woody, to Snow White, her classroom is visually inviting, but it's her clear love for her students that shines brightest.
"They're mine, and I get very attached," Thorne said. "We get very attached."
As for her future, she said while she's been encouraged to move to an administrative role, Thorne's heart is in the classroom, at least for now.