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Leigh Ann Norris’s class helped her celebrate being a 2020 Teacher of the Year finalist.

JASPER, Fla. — A Hamilton County teacher is one of the state’s best.

Leigh Ann Norris has been named a finalist for the state’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

Division of Public Schools Chancellor Jacob Oliva surprised Norris in her classroom Monday to announce she is one of five finalists for the 2020 Teacher of the Year.

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Division of Public Schools Chancellor Jacob Oliva announced Leigh Ann Norris was one of five finalists for the state’s 2020 Teacher of the Year.

Norris is a sixth-grade math teacher at Hamilton County Elementary School. She has been teaching in the district for 21 years.

“Making top five is a dream come true,” Norris said. “I am very excited.”

Norris said she loves bringing excitement to the classroom.

She added that every year as she gets new students, her family grows.

“The wonderful thing about being in such a small community is I can go to the dollar store or I can go to the local grocery store and no matter where I go, I see a student that I have taught and they always come running and they always give me hugs and to me that just picks me up and lifts me up,” Norris said.

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Leigh Ann Norris helps a students in her classroom after finding out she is a 2020 Teacher of the Year finalist.

Norris said she works harder every year to do a better job for her students and to help them be successful.

“We are so excited for Mrs. Norris for the recognition as one of the top five teachers in the state,” Superintendent Rex Mitchell said. “It is a well-deserved award. She does a tremendous job of motivating her students, being a part of their education and very creative.”

Jessie R. Box is a reporter for the Suwannee Democrat, Jasper News and Mayo Free Press. Her beats include general assignment, government and police. ​

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