Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Anytime a professional has 43 years of experience in their career, there is no doubtthey havepicked up some tricks of the trade along the way. However, there's one teacher in the Midlands who says her most valuable tool has been with her since day one.

Mrs. Merrie Duggan is an experienced teacher at North Springs Elementary and through the decades has seen many things change in the classroom.

"I think that's the biggest change is technology," explained Duggan, "but it's made our jobs so much easier."

Sheexperienced the switch from blackboards to smart boards andwatchedas theWorld Wide Web revolutionized computers; however, there's one thing that has never changed for this 2nd grade teacher.

"I still get excited when I ride into our school parking lot every morning. When I look up and see that North Springs sign, my heart begins to beat fast."

Although tests scores are important to Mrs. Duggan, she says being the best teacher possible goes far beyond technique.

"You have to want to be in that classroom. That's got to be top priority. You have to want to be with those children."

Her children want to be with her too.

"I really wanted my teacher to win because she's the best teacher I've ever had in my life," said Madison Jones, the 8-year-old who sent in the Golden Apple nomination form.

"I wrote about her and hoped that she would win and also prayed."

Madison says she's thrilled her favorite teacher is recognized with the Golden Apple Award and only wishes the whole world had the chance to know her.

"If you had Ms. Duggan as a teacher I think you'd really like her because she's the best teacher a girl and a boy could have. She's like man and girl's best friend."

Mrs. Duggan feels that teaching is an honor and responsibility. She offers the following advice to others in her field when it comes to dealing with children.

"You care about them as a person. You care about them academically, that you care about them anywhere they are, that they know they have a friend. That they can come to you with any problem."

If you know a teacher who is deserving, you can visit any Midlands BI-LO store, pick up a Golden Apple Nomination form and tell us why you think your favorite teacher deserves the honor.

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