Hightower Academy Teacher of the Year Niki Kenny has been in education for nearly 20 years, five of those in Dawson County.
She said she didn't originally plan to teach.
"Initially, I didn't want to teach. I just kind of fell into it," she said. "I had gone the route of sports medicine because I always loved science, however, after doing it for a couple of years, I didn't know if that's what I wanted to do."
Following the advice of a college advisor, Kenny decided to give teaching a shot.
"I gave it a try and I loved it," she said. "I naturally gravitated toward science since that's my main field of interest."
Kenny teaches all of the science classes at Hightower, the district's alternative school.
"My main thing that I want for my students is for them to believe in themselves. I want them to realize that there is not a limit to what they can do," she said. "Obviously school is very important, but just because you aren't the best student doesn't mean you won't be successful in life."
It's this self-confidence that Kenny wants all of her students to walk out of class with.
"You can work hard and overcome and do whatever you want to do," she said. "I see a lot of students throughout the year that don't have a lot of self-confidence and I want them to know that they can make a difference and I want them to learn to believe in themselves."
And because of this, Kenny hopes that her students grow to be ready to go out into the world.
"I love watching the kids learn new things and grow and become more confident, as they start to believe in themselves," she said. "I like to watch how they develop as students, but also as people."