When RJ, Rockin’ Jump’s ever-popular mascot, rolled into Emilee Best’s fourth grade classroom, she assumed the principal was taking him to see kids throughout the school.

After a few seconds of surprise, Best realized RJ was there to present her with Rockin’ Jump’s Teacher of the Month award, an honor she won based on the vote of her students.

“I was definitely shocked,” said Best, who teaches at Socastee Elementary. “I had no idea what was going on the first few seconds … My students were jumping up and down once they found they got a free pass for Rockin’ Jump.”

A Cum Laude graduate from Coastal Carolina University, Best is concluding her second year of teaching and she has made an immediate impact on her students, which might be due in part to her ability to relate to her pupils.

She is a 2018 graduate of Coastal and was a standout softball player at Carolina Forest High School, playing for a team that advanced to the state championship game. Best is young enough to identify with her students, and her own life’s experiences provide her unique insight into the impact a teacher can have.

Best moved to Myrtle Beach from Brooklyn, N.Y., in the fourth grade. She was a student in Mrs. Cynthia Johnson’s class at Carolina Forest Elementary School and her welcome to the area played a part in steering her toward a career in education.

“She was so welcoming and made me feel confident being at a new school,” Best said of Johnson’s impact on her. “She was definitely an inspiration (for me) to teach one day. Being a fairly new teacher, I am motivated every day to be a better version of myself than I was the day before.”

Best recently got engaged and, along with her fiancée, is busy planning the design of a new house, but her thoughts are never far from her students.

“There’s nothing more rewarding than seeing evidence that I have made an impact on a student’s life,” she said.

The impact has helped everyone in her class land a free Rockin’ Jump pass as a result of her being named Teacher of the Month.