MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There is a saying in education, “It takes a big heart to shape little minds.”

Lisa Mansell has been shaping little minds for over 30 years. As a kindergarten teacher at Forest View Elementary in Forest Lake, Mrs. Mansell introduces the kids to their first school experience.

She does it with a lot of genuine care, which makes Mrs. Mansell this week’s Excellent Educator.

“They come to school with a smile on their face,” Mansell said about her students. “On days I’m grumpy or tired they still love me and love what we’re going to do in school.”

Her students enter the school year with a lot to learn.

“We’re learning how to read, learning our letters, to learn how to put sounds together, learning how to write,” she said.

And by the end of the year, they’ve picked up some skills, and some confidence.

“I didn’t know how to paint and now I paint real good,” said one student. “My teacher taught me.”

But the whole time she’s teaching, her secret is building relationships.

“I think I get into their hearts and find things out about them and they know things about me and we come to school and have a great time together and they go home to their families and tell them something they’ve learned,” she said.

And the parents have taken notice, after all it was one who nominated Mrs. Manzell for this award.

“It’s humbling, I’ve have 650 kids I’ve taught, I’ve met wonderful parents, families, colleagues,” she said. “To know they look back and find something in me that made a difference in their lives, it’s humbling.”