(WSVN) - The competition is on to pick America’s favorite teacher, and some local educators are in the running.

7’s Heather Walker shines tonight’s spotlight on one of them

Learning can be fun, especially in Miss Rodriguez’s gifted class, where she tries to turn lessons into games.

Tsehaye Augusto/2nd grader: “She makes it fun all the time.”

Heather Walker: “How does she make it fun?” “

Tsehaye Augusto: “She does fun activities.”

Jennifer Rodriguez teaches at Mater Academy Biscayne in Miami.

She is in the running to be named America’s Favorite Teacher and if she wins, she would be featured in Reader’s Digest.

Heather Walker: “Do you think she should win?”

Tsehaye Augusto: “Yeah.”

Heather Walker: “Why should she win?”

Tsehaye Augusto: “Because she’s a great teacher.”

Other students agree.

Sebastian Bernhard: “She teaches us very well. We go up to the board, read the questions and if someone doesn’t get it, they explain it.”

These second graders are excited for the competition.

August Bradford: “It’s really cool that she is running for America’s Best Teacher.”

But no one is more thrilled than Miss Rodriguez herself who made it to the quarter finals.

Jennifer Rodriguez: “Honestly, I did not think I would make it this far.”

Seventy-four thousand teachers applied from across the country. Seven hundred sixty-eight are left and only one will win.

Jennifer Rodriguez: “As educators, we don’t get a lot of recognition, and this competition and just a community has given me a lot of recognition. Not that I need it, but it shows one of those things like it’s like, ‘Wow, I’m doing my job,’ and it’s amazing to get that feeling that, you know, your students, your parents, your administration and everyone is supporting you.”

The prizes don’t hurt either. The winner will walk away with $25,000 cash, a feature in Reader’s Digest and a free trip to Hawaii, which sounds like the perfect prize for any teacher.

Jennifer Rodriguez: “Relaxing after teaching and then straight off to Hawaii would be nice.”

Heather Walker: “You think she deserves that?”

Sebastian Bernhard: “Yes.”

Heather Walker: “You think she needs a little break?”

Tsehaye Augusto: “Yes.”

Miss Rodriguez says teaching is her passion.

Jennifer Rodriguez: “I love the smiles.”

Heather Walker: “What’s your favorite part about coming to school?”

Tsehaye Augusto: “Every day I get greeted by Miss Rodriguez.”

Jennifer Rodriguez: “I love what I do every single day.”

And winning the competition would allow her to help more students.

Jennifer Rodriguez: “I think that I will really use that money to pay loans, student loans. I used to work at a low income three years ago to school, and I think I would go back and donate some of that money to those students, just because that’s where I started and I did see the struggle and needs of lower income schools.”

The rest, she says, will go towards helping her parents and her current classroom.

August Bradford: “I hope you win and if you win, then I’ll always remember that you are America’s Best Teacher.”

Because to her students, Miss Rodriguez is already a winner.

The winner of the competition will be announced next month.

Heather Walker, 7News.

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