CHIPLEY – Kate M. Smith Elementary School first grade teacher Kristen Wilder has been named the “Amazing Teacher” for the month of December.

Wilder, a former KMS student herself, has been teaching for eight years, with three years in Kindergarten and five in her current position on the KMS first grade teaching team.

“I absolutely loved teaching kindergarten,” said Wilder. “But first grade is my favorite. First grade is the best because you get to see so much growth in their learning. It gives me so much joy watching them become confident in their learning.”

The nomination letter spoke of Wilder’s willingness to go the extra mile for her students.

“She helped my son when he was struggling," read the nomination. "She was willing to do anything she could to help.”

Wilder, who received her Bachelors degree from Florida State University, says the key to teaching is to let students know you believe in them and that someone loves them no matter what.

“I have learned that you have to deal with what they might be dealing with before you can teach them,” said Wilder. “I tell them everyday when they get on the bus that I love them and to have a good day.”

Wilder said she was honored and humbled by the nomination.

“I am so thankful that parents allow me to have their children for eight hours a day,” said Wilder. “Overall, I want them to leave my classroom knowing that someone cares about them. If there is no one else in the world they can turn to, that Miss Wilder will be right there for them.”

“Miss Wilder is great, and we all love her,” said one of her students.

Wilder 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 or