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At Glendale-Kenly, first grade teacher leads with her heart

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KENLY — Amber Martinez, who teaches first grade at Glendale-Kenly Elementary School, is her school’s “Leading with the Heart” honoree “for going above and beyond in and outside of the classroom.”

“Amber Martinez always goes above and beyond for students,” a colleague wrote in nominating her for the honor. “She is so helpful to her peers as well. You can always count on her help. She has the biggest heart. She deserves to be recognized for her hard work and dedication to education.”

Martinez said she had wanted to be a teacher since she was in the first grade. “I have worked with a lot of wonderful teachers along the way who have helped guide me to where I am today,” she said.

“I feel like the best part of my job is becoming a part of the kids’ lives and getting to know them beyond their academics,” Martinez said.

“I stay motivated by the kids and by watching them grow,” she said. “My favorite part of teaching is the ‘light bulb’ moment when a student learns something for the first time and a light bulb goes on.”

The daughter of David and Denise Creech of Clayton, Martinez is a 2006 graduate of Clayton. Before becoming a teacher, she was a teacher’s assistant in the Johnston County schools.

Martinez earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education from Barton College in 2015. She joined the staff at Glendale-Kenly that same year.

In her free time, Martinez enjoys arts and crafts. She attends Temple Baptist Church in Selma and lives in Clayton with her husband, Chase.

The Johnston County schools will name a countywide “Leading with the Heart” honoree in a ceremony later this year. The award takes its name from Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyewski’s book, “Leading with the Heart.”