Chesterfield teacher wins presidential honor

CHESTERFIELD, VA (WWBT) - She's a former stay-at-home mom who is now making a difference in the classroom. Vickie Hugate said teaching is her calling.

"I want every kid to leave my class smiling and feeling confident," said Hugate.

Shying away from tradition, Mrs. Hugate's students learn math on the floor. On the day we visit her Grange Hall Elementary School classroom in Chesterfield students were calculating perimeter and area on the floor by using tape, string and a ruler.

"It's easier because you learn in fun ways like this and she makes up little dances, little songs," said 5th grade student Emiley Farnsworth.

With a friend by her side to boost her confidence, 11-year-old Emiley taught us how to calculate range.

"Home, home on the range," sang the girls. "You take the biggest, the littlest subtract, keep the change."

"I tell them the first day of math that they're going to be a mathematician and when they leave, they truly think that they are," said Hugate.

"Let's just say she's the best teacher in the world," said student Daniel Allen. He used to struggle with division.

"When I couldn't do division she helped me, and now I'm awesome," said Allen.

In her classroom, where every wall features a lesson, Mrs. Hugate tutors students during her lunch break.

"We do the extraordinary measures and it's just exciting to see that somebody has noticed and recognized that we all do a wonderful job every single day," Hugate said.

The application process for the presidential award began during the last school year, when the principal at Grange nominated Mrs. Hugate. Hugate submitted a video that showcased her work in the classroom. She also sent in details about her lessons and essays. At the start of the current school year Hugate learned she was a national finalist.

"April 29th, the best day ever to Mrs. Hugate," said Hugate as she read from comments written in chalk by students on a sheet of brown butcher paper. "And it certainly was."

It was on that day the woman who's taught for a decade learned she won. She is the only teacher in Virginia to get the honor and is one of 85 across the US.

"It's really exciting when they tell me that I'm awesome. It really makes my day," she said.

Vickie Hugate won an expenses paid trip to Washington DC. She'll receive the award in two weeks. She also won $10,000 which will help her get her master's degree in mathematics.

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