With the 2021 school year officially wrapped up, one teacher knows it's been an adventure: Daina Faling, who won our Teacher Tuesday competition in January of 2021 and is now, officially, our Teacher of the Year!

Faling works for Rice Elementary School, and when we interviewed her after her January 2021 win, she said that her favorite thing about being a teacher are her "Smarties" (her students). Interviewing her after her big Teacher of the Year win in May 2021, Faling says that these first-graders continue to make her job worthwhile during the hardships of the pandemic.

"They're so resilient, and they are so excited to learn and they come to school every day with a smile on their face just ready to learn," Faling said in an interview with our on-air team.

Faling also said that when she originally won the $500 for her Teacher Tuesday competition in January, she and her students put it to good use. "I used the money that was awarded from last time, and we ended up adopting-- we did it for Earth day and incorporated it into our curriculum-- we adopted a manatee for the Save the Manatee program!"  Her students now call themselves "ambassadors" for the manatees, which is the cutest thing I've ever heard.

Daina Faling received the most votes in our Teacher of the Year competition, which means she wins a roundtrip flight for two to anywhere in the continental U.S. via Landline/United Airlines — the service begins with a bus ride from the Northern Colorado Regional Airport in Loveland.

Faling also claims a $100 gift card to food delivery service Nosh NoCo and a free oil change from Ozzie's Bodyshop.

Congratulations to Daina Faling and a HUGE thank you to every teacher who was included in our competition, as well as every teacher here in Northern Colorado. Your work is noticed, appreciated, and loved.

See all of our incredible nominees here:

Teacher Tuesday Educator of the Year Nominees