BETHLEHEM - Holmes County teacher Cathy Sumner has been teaching for nearly 20 years - and says there is nothing else she would rather do.

"I always wanted to be a teacher," said Sumner, ESE instructor for grades 1-5 at Bethlehem School. "I enjoy coming to work each day and just love what I do."

Parents and co-workers say Sumner's passion for her students is undeniable - and the reason behind one parent's decision to nominate her for the "Amazing Teacher" Award, calling Sumner a "second mom" to her child.

"It was my son’s first time last year at Bethlehem," wrote the parent. "Miss Sumner took him under her wing and helps him with everything he needs. During the summer (she) stayed in touch because she wanted to see how he was doing … she always asked about his doctor appointments, and some Fridays, she would bring food from her house and eat lunch with him. She is the best teacher in Holmes County, and I could not ask for a better teacher/role model for my son. When he goes to school, I don’t have to worry about him when she is around.”

Sumner says she could not ask for better students, either - and it is that learning partnership to which she says she owes her classroom's success.

"I just give [the students] the very best of me everyday, and in return, they give me the very best of themselves. Together, we work to learn and achieve what we can achieve. Every day presents new opportunities for them to learn and grow."

Sumner, who earned her teaching certificate from University of West Florida, has taught at Bethlehem for three years but previously taught ESE, alternative education, reading, and sixth grade at Altha in Calhoun County, another K-12 school.

She points to a supportive school staff and the K-12 experience as some of her favorite aspects of teaching at Bethlehem.

"Since I have been at Bethlehem, I have found the other teachers, staff, and administrators to be very supportive of the ESE program," said Sumner. "They work hard to support me as the ESE teacher, and I value that. We all work together for a common goal and the good of the students."

"I love the K-12 schools because you get to see the children early on and watch them grow over the years," she adds. "That's something you don't always get at other schools. It seems you are able to get a real connection, and I like to be a part of that."

Sumner was recently recognized by the Holmes County Times-Advertiser and Washington County News with the presentation of a certificate and a sponsor gift from presenter First Federal Bank.

Do you know an amazing Holmes or Washington County teacher? Nominate him or her to be named an “Amazing Teacher” by visiting www.chipleypaper.com or www.bonifaynow.com