WARRENTON — Kirby Alston, an Exceptional Children’s Teacher at Mariam Boyd Elementary School, has been honored by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.

“It is truly an exciting honor,” she said. She teaches kindergarten through fifth grade. “I was very shocked. But, I’m excited and it is such an honor.”

In lieu of the regular Educator of Excellence celebration, which did not happen this year because of the cancellation of the annual Conference on Exceptional Children, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction’s Exceptional Children Division has forged a new way for districts to recognize “outstanding educators, related service personnel and special education support staff providing services to students with disabilities during this unprecedented time,” according to Warren County Schools’ website.

Exceptional Children Program directors and coordinators were invited to recognize “Extraordinarily Exceptional Educators” in their district throughout the 2020-21 academic year. Alston was one of the teachers in North Carolina to be recognized as an “outstanding teacher, related service personnel, and special education support staff serving students with disabilities in their district, charter school, residential school, or state-operated program for fall 2020,” according to the WCS website.

Hard work was among the topics she brought up during a phone interview.

She said she isn’t sure why she was honored, but said “guess maybe just my hard work and dedication to the job.” She said she tries to give her all each day.

“I know this year [has] probably not been easy for any teacher, with all of the virtual going on and the COVID and everything,” she said. “But each day I just try to give [it] my all and stay positive.”

Alston loves the students she works with and loves her job.

She has taught many new skills to students. “That’s my main thing, just to see growth,” she said. “Teaching them a skill that maybe they didn’t come into my class knowing how to do. That’s my goal. If I’ve taught them at least one thing.”