TERRE HAUTE, Ind (WTHI) - The talk inside Traci Kyle's classroom at Terre Haute South Vigo High School is more like a college course.
Kyle has been teaching AP English and literature at South for the last 15 years.
It's a classroom full of the school's top students, and Kyle is working to build a platform for their future.
"We have a lot of kiddos sitting in her class. They're already brainiacs. How do you take that move them forward? And she's a pro at that," Principal Tammy Rowshandel said.
Kyle believes in order to teach students...you have to reach them. And to reach them, you have to be a real person.
"The best way of doing that is by letting them into my life. Here's who I am beyond the classroom. Then I try to get to know who they are beyond the classroom. Then we can do better work together," Kyle said.
Aaron Berry nominated Mrs. Kyle for the Golden Apple.
"She always has a smile on her face. So when you walk into class you kind of just feel that energy she puts off," Berry said.
"She's the best English teacher I've ever had and you can tell how much she cares about her students," student Journey Warner, who also nominated Mrs. Kyle, said.
Kyle will tell you it takes a lot of preparation to get teenagers to buy into classical literature.
"I try to make it relatable, right, so I do a lot of work trying to make connections to popular culture. I encourage them to make connections to popular culture," she told us.
She cares passionately about literature, but it is her passion for people that showed through perhaps, even more, this year.
Serious health concerns at home took time from the classroom.
But it made this award even sweeter.
"To get the award this year...to be recognized that I'm still doing a good job, but also just to have this recognition that may be what my students are learning from me this year is more than about literature and about writing. It's about how to be a person in this world when things aren't going well and to keep persevering in spite of that," Kyle told us.