Friday was declared Lisa Godwin Day in honor of North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year but Dixon Elementary School kindergartener Everett Glass didn’t need a proclamation to tell him what he sees every day in his classroom.

“She’s the best teacher,” Everett said as he blew on a paper horn and waited with classmates to greet their teacher back to school.

Godwin was named the state’s Teacher of the Year during an awards ceremony Thursday in Cary and was surprised Friday with a special escort from her home in Surf City to school accompanied by Surf City Mayor Doug Medlin.

As she arrived waving while standing through the sunroof of the vehicle decorated with Teacher of the Year posters, she was greeted by the roar of the cheering students and staff waiting at the front of the school. The students threw confetti and waved streamers lining the sidewalks and her kindergarten students rolled out the red carpet – appropriately from a roll of red paper used for class projects – for her walk into the school.

“I’m thrilled. I had no idea,” Godwin said in brief comments before she made her red carpet walk arm-and-arm with the mayor and was then met with hugs from students before they headed to their classes.

Medlin read a proclamation declaring April 7 Lisa Godwin Day and recognizing her as a “shining example of an educator.”

An emotional Godwin addressed the school and said the honor is hers to be an educator and serve the community.

“I’m just so proud to be a part of this community, and I’m so proud of all of you,” Godwin said to the students gathered.

The Dixon Elementary School staff members were equally excited Friday morning as they readied for the school day and the surprise welcome for their colleague.

“We’re just thrilled for her,” said school receptionist Janice Parker.

Media specialist Vanessa Taylor has watched Godwin at work with her students during a peer evaluation and walked away knowing Godwin has a special talent in the classroom.

“Every teacher should see her with her kids,” Taylor said.

First-grade teacher Amy Glass, who has taught 10 years at Dixon Elementary School and been an educator 15 years, also knows Godwin from a parent perspective as Everett’s mom.

“He’s excited every day when he comes home and just as excited to go to school in the morning,” Glass said.

Glass said she was at a teacher conference in Raleigh when she got the text from Principal Glenn Reed letting staff know Godwin had won the Teacher of the Year honor.

Glass said it was affirmation of what they already knew even before the award.

“I texted a photo of her and Everett Thursday morning (before the award announcement) and let her know, win or lose, she is our teacher of the year,” Glass said.

The win is well-deserved.

“She is very nurturing but at the same time she challenges her students to be their best; she challenges me as a teacher to be my best,” Glass said.

As North Carolina’s Teacher of the Year, Godwin will spend the next school year traveling the state as an ambassador for the teaching profession.

Reed said Godwin is the perfect person to do so.

“She is a true professional who embodies not only the spirit of what a great educator should be, but is the model of what many of her peer aspire to be,” Reed said. “Her advocacy for students and dedication to her profession has impressed me from the moment we stepped on campus together just two short years ago.”

Godwin began a career in nursing and then transitioned to education, starting her teaching career in Lee County. After obtaining a master’s degree in school administration from UNC-Chapel Hill, Godwin served as an assistant principal in Lee County for two years before joining Onslow County Schools in 2012 as assistant principal at Meadow View Elementary. She made another transition in 2013, returning to the classroom as a teacher at Dixon Elementary.