For Carmen Larrinaga, laying the groundwork for educational excellence is her number one job, and she shapes that foundation every day, employing lively strategies that enlighten, engage and entertain. A first-grade teacher at Silver Trail Elementary in Kuna, ID, Larrinaga has loved the adventure of changing grade levels and inspiring some of the youngest learners in the school system to develop a passion for knowledge. Singing and dancing with the students to help them learn a variety of spelling patterns was a highlight of the year. This new position has allowed her to continue to develop her skills and knowledge. As a team leader Larrinaga has enjoyed working with her team to develop new math curriculum to meet the needs of the students at Silver Trail. While teaching sixth-grade at Melba Elementary in Melba, ID, Larrinaga had the opportunity to teach in a classroom filled with technology. Each student had a computer at their desk that was utilized in every subject throughout the day. Many tasks were completed on the computer throughout each day, tying learning to 21st Century skills. As a fifth-grade teacher at Melba Elementary, Larrinaga wass adept at integrating technology into her classroom. Applied learning lessons have included a student-made American Revolutionary quilt to teach various aspects of science and history, 3-D models to encourage hands-on involvement, and balloons to demonstrate how warm air masses work. A specialist in science, technology and math, Larrinaga has also made strides with her students in writing—another testament to her superlative skills. She has a knack for working with low-performing children and bringing them up to speed—even working after hours if necessary. Her professional leadership roles have included heading the district technology committee, where she showed other teachers how to integrate technological know-how into their lesson plans. She also served as the head of the safety committee. Working with staff as well as community members to develop a safety plan sufficient for the school needs. Then providing training for staff to continue to foster a safe learning environment for students and staff. A mentor to fellow educators on student management and SIOP usage, Larrinaga also served as the go-to person when her fellow instructors had issues navigating the student’s computer-based management system. Never one to back down from a challenge, she attends and leads optional trainings to enhance her skill set and voluntarily seeks opportunities to collaborate with other teachers. No matter what her day brings, Larrinaga always finds innovative ways to build on knowledge, inspire curiosity and foster success.