JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Rachel Higginbotham says teaching is in her blood. After all, her mother was a teacher in Washington County Tennessee Schools for 42 years.

Higginbotham’s high energy and positive spirit are apparent the second you enter her classroom. Add to that a demanding set of standards and you have the secret to her success.

“My theory is: work hard, play hard. When it’s time to learn we learn, when it’s time to have fun we have fun,” said Higginbotham.

Higginbotham has been using that formula for 17 years. 16 of those years as a Kindergarten teacher at Ridgeview Elementary in Washington County, Tennessee.

“[Teachers] are the foundation, I don’t want children to come in scared and sometimes we have kids who have never been away from mom and dad or have never been to school. I want it to be a positive learning environment,” said Higginbotham.

“[Higginbotham] creates a love of learning for her students within the classroom. [Students] are always up and moving and interacting with one another,’ said Ridgeview Elementary Principal Leslie Lyons.

Students continue to learn and grow long after they leave her classroom. Higginbotham call’s them “Higginbotham’s Heroes”

“I have kids that will come back to see me. I’m still friends with a lot of my kids’ parents that I had,” said Higginbotham.

Those heroes continue to shine bright for Higginbotham year after year.

“I love teaching because I want to make a difference,” said Higginbotham.

Congratulations to this week’s Educator of the Week, Rachael Higginbotham.

To nominate an educator, click here.