MACON, Ga. — A teacher at the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon is among the finalists to be the Georgia Teacher of the Year. Sabrina Burse sat in on a class to learn more about what makes this teacher special. 

Kristen Applebee has been an educator for about 25 years, but she spent the last 6 years teaching art at the academy. 

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"It really has surprised me how much I've fallen in love with it," said Applebee. 

Applebee is one of 10 finalists who could claim the 2020 Georgia Teacher of the Year title. She teaches students with visual impairments and special needs. She says her students learn a lot in her classroom, but she especially wants one thing to stick with them. "If it gets hard here, you are not allowed to quit. You are allowed to fail as much times as you want, but you can't quit," said Applebee. 

Students in Mrs. Applebee's classroom can find the art supplies they need by feeling the Braille along shelves, feelings for objects, and looking at large print.

"I think that my students aren't used to using their hands. I think most of them listen to the television, they listen to the radio, they listen to audiobooks," said Applebee. 

She makes it a point for them to use their sense of touch whenever they can for those reasons. She says sometimes, that can be challenging.

"Just trying to be very flexible is always a trial," said Applebee. 

 Although she is a Pennsylvania native, Applebee says teaching her students creativity at the academy is exactly where she is supposed to be.

"Each kid brings a little bit of quirkiness, and you just fall in love with the parts that make them so endearing to you," said Applebee. 

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The Georgia Department of Education will announce the state's 2020 Teacher of the Year on May 18.