PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (WPRI) — The pandemic didn’t stop a Portsmouth elementary school from celebrating one of its 3rd-grade teachers Tuesday, when Gov. Gina Raimondo named her the 2021 Rhode Island Teacher of the Year.

Ashley Adamson’s students cheered her on during a surprise ceremony outside Hathaway Elementary School. With their parents driving, the students rode around the parking lot holding signs thanking Adamson for all of her hard work.

“This pandemic has brought out the best in so many Rhode Islanders, but especially our amazing teachers,” Raimondo said. “Ashley embodies the best of all our educators – she is focused on her kids’ learning and well-being, she is constantly working to improve her teaching, and she gives generously of her time outside the classroom.”

Adamson has been a teacher for 14 years, and has been at Hathaway Elementary since 2015.

“I’m shocked and honored and so excited to represent the state of Rhode Island, and all of the educators that we have,” Adamson said. “I will enthusiastically represent and make the state proud.”

Lisa Little, the principal of Hathaway Elementary, called Adamson an “outstanding teacher” in her nomination letter.

“Whether interacting with students, communicating with parents, sharing with colleagues, leading or attending professional development activities, she excels at her job,” Little wrote. “Her knowledge of children and how they learn and her genuine love of teaching are extraordinary.”

Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green said Adamson embodies everything it means to be teacher of the year.

“Rhode Island teachers are showing the rest of the country what they can do, and Ashley is a perfect example of dedication, perseverance, and commitment to fun in learning,” Infante-Green said.

Adamson will work with RIDE throughout the next academic year, focusing on educator recognition initiatives. She is eligible to represent that state as the National Teacher of the Year.