TALLAPOOSA COUNTY, AL (WTVM) - Since 2011, National Life Group has been giving out LifeChanger of the Year Awards to 15 teachers across the country that "demonstrates a proven ability to make a beneficial difference in the lives of students."
Each year there are nominees from all 50 states. This year, more than 600 teachers were nominated for these 15 awards.
Dana Ford has been a teacher for 19 years now, following in the footsteps of her mother who shared her passion for education.
She has taught in the Birmingham Public School System and now has made a home at Horseshoe Bend School in New Site Alabama, teaching both first and second grade.
Ford was nominated for the LifeChangers of the year award months ago and received and email back in December that she simply blew off.
"I thought it was just a joke, so I actually deleted the email," Ford said. "Then later that week one of my co-workers said congratulations, and I was like, 'is that something for real?'"
When Ford finally realized she would be receiving this award, she then thought about how this national award would be making a home in little New Site Alabama.
"When I got it I was just in shock. I'm like how can someone from small Tallapoosa County, New Site Alabama, Horseshoe Bend School get something so national?" Ford said.
However, the people at National Life said that the size of the school or town is irrelevant it is all about the teacher.
"Basically we are looking for individuals who on a day in day out basis are making a difference in the lives of students. They have to meet a set criteria. They need to show leadership skills they have to have a proven record of creating this nurturing environment," said Mallorie Manosh, the Director of Cooperate Marketing for National Life.
Nurturing would certainly be a word to describe Ford and her classroom environment.
"They need love, and I know they say you can't hug your children or whatever, what will I do if my students don't hug or I don't show them some kind of affection because I really do care about them," said Ford.
Ford said even though she is now the recipient of this great award, it will not change how she approaches on her job on a daily basis. If anything, she will only work harder now.