SPRINGFIELD, Va. -- The first grade class at Crestwood Elementary has a favorite word: awesome.
The best use of it may be describing the teacher at the front of the room.
Now that teacher is one of four finalists for the 2014 National Teacher of the Year.
Melissa Porfirio, of Fairfax County, teaches first grade at Crestwood in Springfield. She was named the Virginia Teacher of the Year in October.
"It's just really hard to fell so worthy," Porfirio says. "They're recognizing the great things we do as teachers and they're setting us up to be ambassadors for the profession."
The Virginia Department of Education says a panel representing 15 national education organizations chose Porfirio as a finalist last week. The Council of Chief State School Officers, which oversees the National Teacher of the Year program, made the announcement Wednesday.
Porfirio has been a teacher for eight years. She earned her bachelor's degree from Catholic University and her master's from George Mason University.
The National Teacher of the Year will be announced in April at a White House ceremony.
WTOP's Andrew Mollenbeck and the Associated Press contributed to this report. Follow @WTOP on Twitter.
© 2014 WTOP. All Rights Reserved.