“I was surprised and honored,” Lovell said of the recognition.
Her husband also celebrated the recognition by sending her roses at work.
The teacher of the year was also honored at a graduation ceremony for the students earlier this month.
She has worked at the Cleveland location of La Petite for 5 1/2 years with the 4- and 5-year-old students.
Her favorite part about teaching that age group is witnessing the moment when a student understands a new concept.
“It’s that moment when they finally catch on to something. You spend time trying to teach them things and all of a sudden it’s like a light bulb goes on and they change so much in that age group … as they mature through the year they are totally different children,” Lovell said.
Teaching is a second career for Lovell.
After working in a different field for many years, Lovell decided to go back to school to get her early childhood degree.
“It was something I wasn’t sure if it was going to work or not work, but I really enjoy it,” Lovell said.
Her first experiences using her degree were in Florida. There she taught the same age group for nine years.
She moved to Cleveland when her husband’s job transferred here.
“I’m originally from New England, so 17 years in the Florida heat was enough,” Lovell said. “We love the four seasons in Tennessee. It’s really a happy medium between Massachusetts and Florida.”
Working at the Cleveland location has given Lovell new experiences working with children, such as working with a student with special needs for the first time.
“It’s actually been a very rewarding experience for me,” Lovell said.
She said she has enjoyed finding ways to connect with this student.
“Its not that he’s not capable of doing everything everybody else can do; sometimes you just need to go about it in a different way,” Lovell said.
Lovell’s scores during yearly state evaluations contributed to her being chosen as the 2013 Teacher of the Year for the Cleveland location.
Names of the teachers observed are chosen at random. However, Lovell has been randomly selected three years in a row.
“She has the highest score of anyone at the school,” director Faye Cooper said.
Most recently Lovell scored a 6.4 on a 7-point scale.
“It’s stressful. It’s not that you do anything differently than you do every other day. It’s just that you know someone is watching you,” Lovell pointed out.
She said the children do act differently because they are not used to having someone else in the room who is not interacting with them.
Although she always does well, Lovell is hoping she will not be randomly selected for the observation again this year.
“Surely they won’t draw the same person four years in a row,” Cooper said.
Lovell said they had similar thoughts last year, but she still was chosen.
For Lovell, work starts at 6 a.m. when she has students from multiple classrooms for a while before the youngster go to their specific classes.
Her students learn by doing and most of her teaching is through hands-on activities and learning centers. The centers give students the opportunity to choose the subjects they want to explore.
Classroom themes determine when the activities change.
Gardening is the recent theme.
These studies included having students grow root vegetables.
Lovell said while some vegetables are slow to grow, the radishes are growing well.