VERNON - With 32 years in the education field, Renea McKenzie knows love will take her students to the next level.

After teaching kindergarten for 17 years, she was moved to 1st grade this school year. Parents, such as Necole Carnley, could not have been happier to learn their children would go from kindergarten to 1st grade with Mrs. McKenzie.

"Mrs. McKenzie loves her students and teaching them," wrote Necole Carnley who nominated the 1st grade teacher for Washington County News and Holmes County Times-Advertiser's Amazing Teacher for December. "She is so wonderful. I hope 2nd grade will be as successful. She was my son's kindergarten teacher and now 1st grade ... My husband and I appreciate all she does for our son."

Appreciation is the reason that McKenzie has committed to 21 years at Vernon Elementary School. She is the oldest of three children and the first to graduate from college.

When she returned to Vernon decades ago, teaching at a school she from which she is the product of was one opportunity she could not pass up.

"I had wonderful teachers growing up that were great mentors to me," McKenzie said. "I just always knew this was a calling on my life."

Her peers took notice in 2012, nominating her as Teacher of the Year at VES. When she learned she was nominated by a parent for the Amazing Teacher award, she said the recognition was deposited in a special place - her heart.

"I was just overwhelmed; it's one thing to be voted Teacher of the Year by your peers, but when the parents of your children have nice things to say about you, it gets next to your heart," she said.

While more than three decades is a lengthy career and retirement could be imminent, the love that she has for the profession has yet to wane.
"I'm going to do this as long as I feel good and I know I am making a difference in the lives of children," she said. "I really love and enjoy what I do."