COLUMBIA CO., Ga. (WJBF)– Wednesday Columbia County Schools celebrated its first-year teachers at the Savannah Rapids Pavilion.

“The days have been long, but the year has gone by so quickly,” first-year teacher Candace Jackson said.

Before closing the doors on this year, Columbia County Schools is shining a spotlight on its first-year educators.

In August, ​teachers wrote themselves a letter about their plans and hopes for the next nine months. At the celebration, they read those letters and reflected on their first year in the profession.

“It was intense. There were so many things that went into it and just having my first class and not having my partner teacher to fall back on. It was me, I was the teacher. It was a big learning experience,” Rookie of the Year, Allie Doyle said.

“Not only has she grown her students with their standards and their education, but she’s grown as a teacher herself and she’s done such a good job,” Columbia County Teacher of the Year, Ashley Fryer said.

The teachers say there were moments that pushed them.

“The first year is very challenging, but I’m very grateful that I had the opportunity,” first-year teacher Iyanna Sims said.

And moments that reminded them of why they became educators.

“I have a child that has autism. Seeing his growth is just amazing. I love seeing his growth every single day,” Sims said.

Five first-year teachers were nominated for Rookie of the Year. Allie Doyle, a third grade teacher at Cedar Ridge Elementary, took home the title.

“I was shocked. I could not believe it. I just know how many amazing teachers there are in Columbia County,” Doyle said.

Columbia County high school seniors signed letters of intent to pursue careers in education. After they earn their degrees, they’re guaranteed an interview with Columbia County School System.

The Rookie of the Year shared some advice for the future educators.

“Give yourself some grace. You’re going to have good days, you’re going to have bad days. You’re going to have days where you’re on top of the world and the lesson goes super, super well and then you’re going to have lessons that kind of make you fall on your face and that’s okay,” Doyle said.