Sandra Epplett applied for a job in Whistler on a whim.
Her first job was teaching at Myrtle Philip elementary school, a Grade 2/3/4 split.
The year was 1977: there was no high school, no Spring Creek school, just a tiny mountain town, hours away from the city.
And then in the spring she met a man, fell in love and the rest, as they say, is history.
Now, some 35 years later, Ms. Epplett can say she's taught the kids of some of her first students.
This year she is getting a special recognition: a National Excellence Award for Teachers (NEAT) from Heritage Education Funds.
"I had no idea I was even nominated," said Epplett, who hadn't opened an envelope on her desk telling her the news.
"I really, really love my job."
That enthusiasm, passion and sheer love of the job transcends to her students.
She is currently teaching a Grade 1/2 split at Spring Creek Community School, one of her favourite grades although she said each one is a favourite while she's teaching it.
"It's the formative years," she said of teaching six and seven year olds.
"You teach them how to read, teach them the job of learning... It's unlimited what you can do with the kids."
Spring Creek principal Karen Saenger, new to the school this year, has just worked with Epplett for the past few months but used these words to describe her: caring, compassionate, always putting kids first, always asking that question — what is best for the students and for student learning.
"We are so honoured to have one of our teachers celebrated for her teaching excellence," said Saenger.
"There are many excellent teachers in our school and to have one formerly recognized means a lot to our community. Her efforts as a teacher have been profound."
The NEAT award is given to teachers from Junior Kindergarten to Grade 6 from five regions across the country. Epplett's award covers the B.C. and Yukon region. The teachers will get a $5,000 award along with the recognition. Heritage specializes in RESP's.
A parent of former students nominated Epplett writing in the nomination form:
"Gosh... if all the families who were touched by Ms. Epplett over the past 35 plus years of teaching wrote testimonials, there would not be enough gigabytes to save the words.
"What makes Ms. Epplett outstanding is how well she knows each one of her students, tweaking their education, a little, for each one."
A special assembly was held on Wednesday morning at Spring Creek school to officially to present Ms. Epplett with the award.