When Sheryll Martin heard she was one of New Zealand's most inspiring teachers, she thought it was a joke.
She was one of 30 around the country recently honoured for their hard work and dedication in the New Zealand's Most Inspiring Teacher awards.
The Hawera High School careers adviser couldn't believe she had been singled out in a crowd of hundreds that she said are just as deserving.
"There's a part of me that still can't quite get my head around it," she said.
"It's not who I am - I just come here, do my job and do the best I possibly can for my students."
Called to the principal's office, she had that same cold feeling of dread students often experience when expecting a telling off.
Then, seeing a representative from Warehouse Stationery, the award sponsor, in the room, she assumed he was there to sell her something.
Ms Martin quickly let him know where she stood, "I don't have any budget left so if you're here with a special offer, I'm not buying.
"He laughed and said ‘I'm not trying to sell you anything, but I am here to give you something' so I thought I had better sit down and be quiet."
Ms Martin has always believed it is a teacher's job to inspire their students.
"I know that they feel like I do a lot for them, but that's what I'm in teaching for.
"If I'm not doing that then I shouldn't be here."
Ms Martin came to Hawera High School in 1991 to take up the helm of the home economics department.
She taught cooking, sewing and even nannying, until about five years ago.
Now a careers adviser, she still teaches the chef training class.
Watching students reach their potential has always remained the best part of her job.
"I guess being in careers has shown a whole different side to it as well," she said.
"I work a lot with year 13 students going to university and with students that get scholarships and that's very exciting, to think you've been part of that process for them."
One hundred finalists in each of the three categories were selected from a pool of over 2800 nominated educators.
Warehouse Stationery chief executive Pejman Okhovat said he was delighted.
"We know so many teachers go the extra mile to inspire and guide our children".
Ms Martin was the only Taranaki teacher honoured this year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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