CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. (WIVB) — At Union East Elementary School in Cheektowaga, educators are working overtime to teach their students, how to live the “warrior way.” And perhaps no one embodies that more than Karen Ginestre.

“The first day that I had with her I felt really special. I was like oh this is going the be my best teacher ever,” student Dominik Jankowski said of Ginestre.

The first grade teacher has always loved children. As a Cheektowaga native, the educator of 30 years aims to help the town’s younger generation thrive.

“When you teach a first grader, they grow so much during the year and just to see that spark when they finally get something is so rewarding,” Ginestre said. “And, they’re just little minds that you want to shape and form and teach them how to be the best version of themselves.”

She was nominated as a “Grade A+ Teacher” by Tracy Jankowski whose son Dominik was in her class last year. And although teaching virtually was a challenge. Still, Tracy says Mrs. Ginestre went above and beyond.

“She did the ten minute personal Google meet every week with all of her students on top of all of her other classes she was teaching,” Tracy added.

Tracy’s son Dominik requires special accommodations so she was impressed by Ginestre’s seemingly effortless ability to make learning not only easy, but fun.

“Mrs. Ginestre is the type of teacher that she can tell if it’s not working one way, she’ll find another way to reach a kid and to help them learn,” Tracy said.

From “candy awards”, to scavenger hunts, Mrs. Ginestre is one of a kind. And principal Melissa Mitchell says Union East Elementary is lucky to have her.

“Last year when we were putting virtual teachers in place, she stepped right up I know it was not in her comfort zone and I also know that she went above and beyond for her children every day,” Mitchell said.

When asked why she loves what she does, Mrs. Ginestre says it’s because her children come first.

“I think, my job as a first grade teacher first and foremost is making sure they know they belong here and that everyday they walk through that door, we’re here to work it through together. Whatever problem they might have and each time I meet any students over the many years I’ve been teaching, my goal is to make sure that they become the best person they can be,” Ginestre said.