Since 1991, the A+ Teacher Awards have been honoring exceptional educators throughout Trumbull County, and this year's installment, the 20th annual award again has distinguished 20 of the county's best teachers.
Nominated by students and parents, the 20 teachers were selected for their outstanding work in the classroom and their tireless efforts in reaching and shaping students lives.
Diane Holland, a first-grade teacher at Lincoln K-8 in Warren, was nominated by Lindsay Gomez, the mother of a young girl who shared a special bond with Mrs. Holland that will last forever.
''My story with Gina goes further than our classroom,'' said Holland, who explained that when she had Gina as a student she learned that Gina's father and her own son were both stationed at Camp Lejeune as United State Marines.
''Our bond goes quite deep ... I felt just very compelled to put her under my wing and take care of her,'' Holland said.
The Gomez family experienced a family tragedy, and it was this bond and love that drew them even closer.
''They are going to be a part of my life for the rest of my life,'' Holland said.
Holland believes that by showing her students love and respect, that they will respond by doing and working their very best.
''I treat my children like they are my own children,'' she said. ''When you treat a child with love and respect, they will do anything in the world for you in the classroom and for me, as a teacher, that's half the battle.''
Bonnie Orfin of Cortland nominated her grandson's kindergarten teacher, Dana Cox, whom she has known since her son, as a child, also had Mrs. Cox as his teacher.
''She always has a smile on her face. She has to be one of the nicest teachers in the whole world,'' Orfin said. ''My son had her when he was 5, and he's 35 now. And now she's got my grandson.''
Receiving the honor took Cox by surprise.
''I was just really surprised. I feel very honored that they even thought of me,'' she said.
Although she is thrilled to know that Mrs. Cox received the award, she is sad to see her time as a teacher come to an end.
''She's retiring and I want her to know how much she is loved and appreciated,'' Orfin said. ''I just love her to pieces. She's a special person, besides being a special teacher.''
Jennifer Nolan of Champion and her daughter, Madigan, both nominated Sandy Gibson from Champion Elementary School.
''She really is the best. She's the first one there and the last one to leave,'' Jennifer Nolan said, adding that Gibson is not an educator to show how good a teacher she is, but to ensure that her students succeed now and in the future.
Gibson, like Cox, will be retiring at the end of this school year, and receiving the A+ Teacher Award is a nice way to go out.
''It's very special,'' said Cox. ''It's wonderful to end my career with this award.''
One teacher made such an impact on her students that she was nominated by the mother of three boys who each had her in the past.
''She was so special. I really enjoyed her and like her and all three of my boys really liked her too,'' said Sarah Calkins, who nominated Willie Redd, a teacher at Jefferson K-8 in Warren.
Redd taught Calkins' children when they were students at Alden Elementary School.
The Tribune Chronicle received nearly 500 letters of nomination for this year's contest, which is co-sponsored by the Tribune Chronicle, Trumbull County Educational Service Center and Outback Steakhouse.
The judging for the award was done by a panel of business and educational leaders.
A dinner in honor of the winning teachers will be held Monday at the Outback Steakhouse in Niles.