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Columbia, SC (WLTX) – Every week News19 highlights excellence in the classroom and this week we're introducing you to Ms. Valerie manning.

Ms. Manning has been at AC Flora High School for more than 16 years. She offers a bit of different perspective to her special education students, as for a while there, she was a student along with them.

"I started off as an instructional assistant," explains Manning. "As I began to work with the students I began to like it. Just seeing the lights in their eyes when they get something correct, being able to encourage them when they've given up hope. I decided, Ok… I should go back to school."

As a full time employee during the day she drove nearly 60 miles round trip and night to attend SC State University; a move her principal Rick McClure, supported.

"Ms. Manning," McClure says, "we recognized very early was one of these people that just has a unique ability to connect with students."

Her ability to connect and find commonalities helps Manning deal with unique challenges that come with teaching special education

"Some of them have gone as far as to stop trying at all," says Manning, "so you have to go ahead and inspire them and motivate them to try."

Manning stands as an example that hard work really does pay off.

"She was willing to roll up her sleeves and go through that long hall of completing that degree" explains McClure."What a terrific example for others to follow."

If you have a teacher you think deserves to be recognized as Teacher of the Week, fill out a nomination form on our website.

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