WASHINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — “She is probably going to be the best teacher that I have in my life,” said Megan Werner.

It’s inside Central Intermediate School in Washington where fourth-grade teacher Sara Ekena encourages each student to bloom how they’re meant to.

Whether that’s through playing guitar or reading in a tent former student Megan Werner said Mrs. Ekena puts kids first.

“She literally is just like the most comforting teacher I’ve ever met,” said Werner.

The school’s principal said it’s been a joy to watch her encourage her students to thrive in unique ways.

“She works really hard in her classroom to create a community that’s built on kindness and compassion,” said Principal Erika Bush. “She has really high expectations for her students in those areas.”

Mrs. Ekena said she’s all about student development and helping kids feel empowered to learn and grow.

“I think knowing that every day I get to get up and do something I love and hang out with these great little people that I get to spend this year with it’s rewarding,” said Ekena.

Werner said she’s transformed how she feels about school.

“She would help us if like, we needed help with like, math,” said Werner. “Last year, I needed help with math, so like she would stay after school.”

Mrs. Ekena said she’s grateful for students like Megan as she strives to make a difference in her student’s lives.

“[I’m] so excited that she realized what I was doing mattered for her,” said Ekena. “I can see that it paid off. It paid off for me and for her and for, hopefully, other students as well.”

Even though the music will end for the summer, Megan said any student to have Mrs. Ekena will be changed for the better.

“She is going to be the best teacher that I have in my life,” said Werner.

*Photos provided by Sara Ekena