Courageous and kind.

Second-grade teacher Marcella Hitchcock strives to get her students to be both.

“Have courage to try something new. Have courage to stand up for yourself or someone else. Have courage to make a mistake and try again. And just always remember to be kind to people,” said Hitchcock.

For the last 15 years, Hitchcock has taught either first or second grade at Pacific Northern Academy. She said kids at that age are her favorite.

"Second graders are full of questions. They are curious. They are super enthusiastic about learning,” explained Hitchcock. “They want to know and try and it's just a really refreshing. It's a lot of fun.”

Rather than ruling over her students, Hitchcock works with them. Students rarely stay seated at their desks. Instead, her classroom is more of “controlled chaos” as they collectively work on projects that get them thinking outside the box.

"So that the kids don't see me as just an overarching person telling them what to do, but we're kind of all in this together and we're all learning every single day,” said Hitchcock. “I like having them try to solve the problem as opposed to me just trying to give them the answers all the time”

Hitchcock also makes every effort to connect with her kids. She said it’s the secret to her success.

“Really taking the time to learn who they are and to let them know that we're all kind of in this together and that I'm here to help them in any way I can,” said Hitchcock.

She moved to Alaska in 2002 from New Mexico.

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