Ellen Lejeune knows that as a first grade teacher at Our Lady of Fatima she plays a big part in the lives of her students.
And as an LEF Award Finalist, she realizes the effort has made a huge difference inside and outside of the classroom.
"They're with me a lot of their day and a lot of their week," says Lejeune. "So I want their classroom to be like their second home."
And that second home looks nothing like a traditional first grade classroom. For Lejeune's students, every day is an immersive learning experience.
Students like John Thomas Vanicor and Sophia Romero say those experiences are what make learning fun.
"We did a pizza shop one time and we did a bat cave," says Romero. "Now we're doing a doctor one."
The themed lessons, Lejeune says, keep students interested.
"It gets them excited about coming to school."
Lejeune makes sure to go the extra mile so her students will always feel this way about learning.
"It's important for kids to love school at this age," she says. "I'm hoping it will continue a life- long love of learning after they leave here."
Calling her class a family, Lejeune has nothing but love for her students, her job and her school.
"I love being in the classroom and i love being with the kids," she says. "There's not been a day I dreaded coming to work or wished it was the weekend."
And luckily for the little ones who have high hopes for a fun first grade year, Lejeune doesn't plan on bringing her teaching career to an end any time soon.
"This is my first year here," she says. I'd like to continue as long as I'm having fun and the kids are having fun and I'm doing a good job in the classroom."
The LEF Teacher Awards take place on Wednesday, January 29 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette.
To purchase tickets to this year's ceremony, visit LEF Foundation website .