CHESTERFIELD, Va. (WRIC) — A surprise awaited Vivian Rivera-Maysonet when she arrived at work Monday. The Spanish resource teacher at Elizabeth Scott Elementary School in Chester was named by the county as a 2022 Chesterfield School Teacher of the Year.

“It’s a win for me every day when I get a smile from them [the students] and they’re pronouncing in Spanish and they’re happy about it,” she said. “I believe that when a kid — when a child is happy and enjoying him or herself, I mean, they’re learning. They won’t forget whatever happens in that moment.”

Rivera-Maysonet worked as an English teacher in Puerto Rico for 19 years until Hurricane Maria hit the island, which forced her to relocate to Virginia with her family.

In addition to teaching, Rivera-Maysonet also serves as an advocate and translator for the Hispanic community at Elizabeth Scott Elementary, according to a world languages curriculum specialist for Chesterfield County Public Schools.

“Students are more curious than ever about learning from other cultures and sharing what makes every human being special and unique, their individuality,” Rivera-Maysonet wrote in her Teacher of the Year application.

Rivera-Maysonet joins two other Chesterfield teachers — Angela Bucek of Providence Middle School and Gina Hackett Bird High — as the district’s top Teachers of the Year for 2022-23. According to a press release from Chesterfield County Public Schools, Rivera-Maysonet will go on to compete for the Region 1 Teacher of the Year award presented by the Virginia Department of Education.