Thanks to Teachers: Laura Earley

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If everybody has a story, Laura Earley's began when she was the same age as her kindergarten students at Junaluska Elementary.

"I so looked up to my kindergarten teacher and knew I wanted to be just like her," remembers Earley. "That's all I ever said I wanted to be, a teacher. And, I stuck with it the whole way."

Ira Hyde, Junaluska's Media Specialist, has known Earley since high school.

They went to college together at Western Carolina, and have both been working at Junaluska for 17 years.

"She's just a great person, all around," says Hyde. "She will do anything for her kids and her classroom."

Today, Earley's class is drawing and writing their own stories.

"I'm drawing a turkey and I don't know how to," one little boy says to Ms. Earley. "Well, you see my turkey up there, and how rough he looks," says Earley, pointing to her drawing on the wall. "Just do your best, ok?"

Earley taught fourth and second grades for most of her career, before moving to kindergarten this year.

While she was happy with the older students, Earley says the little ones have given her even more joy on the job.

"You're taking them such a dramatic turn in their little lives. They come, some of them, not knowing any of their letters, and they leave reading," says the longtime teacher.

"Ms. Earley is kind to me. I love her and she loves me," states kindergarten student Elizabeth.

"This is just a few short months that you get to see this huge growth in these little people," adds Earley.