COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nicole Washington has been an educator for more than 20 years, spending much of that time in Richland District One.

"I decided to become a teacher, because when I was growing up, my sister and I always played school and I was the teacher," said Washington.

Washington teaches first grade at William S. Sandel Elementary School in Columbia and says it's critical to teach students life skills like friendship and perseverance.

"It's very important for us to love each other," said Washington.  "I think starting right now in first grade is never to0 young."

The person who nominated Ms. Washington as the News 19 Teacher of the Week says, "Ms. Washington loves what she does and is living proof that teaching is a matter of the heart."

Washington makes it a point to tell every student she sees she loves them, because school should be a safe place where everyone is accepted.

"I don't know what they get when they get outside this school, but when they come inside, I want them to know that they are loved," said Washington.

If you know an educator like Ms. Washington you can email us and nominate that teacher at TOW@WLTX.COM.