They work on projects side-by-side with their students.
When they learn a new technology or teaching technique, they bring it to their classrooms.
They find ways to encourage students to do their best -- one even dyed her hair pink to motivate her class.
On Friday, 31 Beaufort County School District teachers were surprised with the news that they were their school's teacher of the year.
The announcements, delivered by a district official or school board member and the principal at each school, were met with students' cheers, and in some cases, teachers' tears of joy.
Amy Fallon, a fifth-grade teacher at Port Royal Elementary, said the award meant her fellow teachers recognized her hard work.
"Other people see I'm effective with students, that I care and I want them to learn," she said.
Teachers of the year are selected by their peers through criteria established by the schools, the district's teacher forum and the S.C. Department of Education.
Several teachers selected said they've known they wanted to be teachers all their lives. Fallon said that as a child, she'd teach to her stuffed animals.
Holly Lambert, a seventh-grade English teacher at Beaufort Middle School, said she "never even questioned" her career choice.
For many, their love of teaching stems from that "lightbulb moment" when their students grasp the lesson.
"I love seeing the kids grow," Lambert said. "That's my favorite part."
Principals say these teachers stand out because they motivate and connect with students.
"She's just extremely positive and encouraging," Hilton Head Elementary principal Jill McAden said of fourth-grade teacher Marcia Dillon.
Dillon is so dedicated to motivating her class, she dyed her hair pink, McAden said.
She had made a pact with her all-girl class to dye her hair if it met its goals on English and math standardized tests. It did.
"It was just amazing how the kids gave 110 percent," Dillon said.
The teachers will go on to complete for the district teacher of the year title, which will be announced this fall. The winner of that competition advances to the statewide contest.
- Teacher of the year works magic at Hilton Head High; Sept. 16, 2011
- Finalists for district's top teacher named; Aug. 12, 2011
- 2011-12 teachers of the year list announced; May 4, 2011