Brandi Hartman can't imagine herself being anything other than a teacher.
It's what she has always remembered to be her career of choice. While a student at New Smyrna Beach High School, that choice was only further solidified as Hartman was able to participate in a program called "Cuda's Care."
"Through that program I was able to interact with young children, create lesson plans, design centers and so much more," Hartman said. "It was then that I knew I was destined to be a teacher."
The Tomoka Elementary School Teacher of the Year received her bachelor's in education from Daytona State College. During her time at DSC, she taught at several local preschools and was also an after school care teacher at a private school. It was through those jobs that Hartman said her love for children only grew. Hartman is in her sixth year in education and is currently kindergarten.
Being nominated as her school's Teacher of the Year is "an awesome experience," she said.
"There are some amazing educators in Volusia," Hartman said. "I felt honored that my colleagues chose me to represent Tomoka as one of those educators. The nomination was extra motivation to persevere through such a difficult and challenging year and to continue to be the best educator that I can for my students and colleagues."
She hopes her students remember to focus on what is best for them in the long run, instead of what feels easy or right in the moment. Be true to yourself, Hartman said.
Her favorite thing about teaching is seeing the moment students grasp important skills that they used to struggle to understand.
"There is no better feeling in the world than seeing the lightbulbs go off," Hartman said. "I also love getting creative and doing projects and hands on learning with my class. It is my goal every day to make learning fun."