Denise Holderman can't tell you what makes her a great teacher.
"So much of what I do is what I am," she said.
But she knows where her greatness comes from.
"The positive impact I have on my students comes from my beliefs, convictions and my very soul," she said. "We all have something to contribute and there's always more to learn."
Holderman's dedication to learning earned her the teacher of the year distinction at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School, where she teaches fourth grade, then she was chosen as Carson City School District's best teacher.
She was also selected by Nevada Appeal readers as Carson City's best teacher last year.
And her principal, Sue Keema, thinks those accolades are well-deserved.
"She's the kind of person you'd want your own children to have in their lives," Keema said. "She's knows how to take research of the best practices in teaching and apply them in the classroom."
She started practicing her technique early.
"I remember using my colored chalks on my blackboard to write numbers words and helpful picture cues to teach my stuffed animals," Holderman recalled. "I feel I have the most important job in the world and I love it."
She started out at teaching the middle school level but when she realized there were students who couldn't read, she moved to the elementary level.
"I thought if I could influence some of those kids when they were younger, that would make a bigger difference," she said.
And she tries hard to ensure they all have an equal chance to learn. She even buys all of her students' supply at the beginning of each year to eliminate any economic or cultural discrepancies.
"It is not my classroom, it is our classroom," she said. "We all have the right to learn and no one can take that right away from us."
Holderman has taught elementary school for 13 years, five of them at Empire Elementary School and eight at Bordewich-Bray Elementary School.
"From day one, my job was to be the impetus toward each student's love for lifelong learning," she said. "I wanted all of my students to be readers, writers, mathematicians, scientists, geographers and scholars so they, too, could learn about and appreciate our wonderful world. That's what I still believe today."
She is married to Brent Holderman, president and manager of Stewart Title, and they have two children Doug, 16, and Erin, 14.