BUFORD -- Ultimately, Deale Fitch wants her kindergartners to learn one thing by the end of the year: how to be a good person.
"They're going to learn the subject matter, so I want to focus on the role of self and society," said Fitch, who teaches kindergarten at Buford Elementary School. "I say to them the most important thing you can learn in kindergarten is to be a good friend."
Fitch, Buford City Schools' Teacher of the Year, has been teaching for five years. She joined the small city school system after retiring from the post office, where she worked for 21 years.
"I believe it's a noble profession. It's very rewarding," Fitch said of why she decided to pursue a new career in education.
Fitch said she decided to teach young elementary students because she believes an early foundation is important.
"If they don't have that, they will struggle their whole life," she said, adding, "I enjoy their enthusiasm and love for learning at this age."
Fitch said she's honored and humbled to be representing the school district as this year's top teacher.
"I didn't do it alone," she said. "Our school is very supportive, and my co-workers work together as a team. I couldn't have done it without my co-workers.
"I don't know that I deserve it any more than anyone else," she added. "Any teacher in this school could have been named it."
Fitch said the experience of being named the Teacher of the Year has increased her confidence as a teacher.
"Coming in at my age and starting a second career later in life, I was lacking confidence, so this has encouraged me and built my confidence as a teacher," she said.
Buford City Schools will honor Fitch tonight at its annual Teacher of the Year banquet.