WALLINGFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Step inside the first grade classroom of Mrs. Erin Berthold at Cook Hill School in Wallingford and you’ll be amazed.

Every wall, every corner, every nook and cranny is crammed with teachable opportunities.

It’s a literature rich environment.

“By having things everywhere that they can look, even if they are distracted they are still learning something else,” said Berthold.

Berthold’s first graders were engaged and interested in their lessons.Related Content: What’s Right With Schools: Isaac Tomblin and East Lyme H.S.

That’s a testament to her teaching style.

“By making it more play-based learning, then they kind of feeling like they are having fun and playing, but really they are learning. So when kids are using those magnet tiles and writing….It’s fun, but fun with a purpose,” said Berthold.

She also embraces technology as a powerful teaching tool for kids.

“They really just soak it up, what can be a challenge for them is not a challenge for adults because they are not afraid of it,” said Berthold.

Donations of iPads helped fill the gap where budgets fell short.Related Content: What’s Right With Schools: Branford High School’s Model Congress

No doubt however, that the most important asset in Mrs. Berthold’s classroom is Mrs. Berthold herself.

“She helps us a lot. That’s what makes her special,” said 1st grader Owen.

So special, she has been named Connecticut’s teacher of the year by the Connecticut Department of Education.

“I was really surprised and so honored, that they chose me. But also honored that they chose an elementary teacher too,” said Berthold.

As if her work in the classroom wasn’t enough, she maintains a impressive website dedicated to personalized learning through technology. Check out her site at http://eberthold.weebly.com/.