PALMETTO, Fla. — Today’s A+ teacher is driven by purpose.

Erica Bruton goes to work every day knowing that she’s making a positive difference in the lives of her students.

She’s been uplifting and inspiring students for two decades.

What You Need To Know

Bruton, who teaches language arts at Lincoln Memorial Middle School, has a deep connection to the community.

And she sets the bar high for her students.

“Having the high expectations and holding them to it, and not watering it down, just telling them, ‘Okay this is what we’re going to do, and you will do it by the end of the year,’ “ Bruton said.

And they do.

In fact, Bruton has been honored by administrators and lawmakers for developing effective teaching strategies and building rapport with students and families.

She was just named a winner of the congressional teaching award.

“Erica Bruton is what we would call a teacher’s teacher,” said Lincoln Middle Principal Ronnie King. “That was indicated because the teachers on this campus chose her as our first teacher of the month at the beginning of the school year. She has a model classroom, and also she has served as a mentor teacher to other teachers.

“You can only do that if you’re highly effective and if you have a track record of your work in the classroom.”

For 21 years, Bruton has been making literature relevant for students. She also teaches 8th grade honors English.

Her personal story also connects with her students.

Not only has she been a teacher on campus for two decades but she once was a student as well at Lincoln Middle – along with most of her family.

“I’ve always taught right here,” she said. “I was a student here in 6th through 8th grades. I subbed here while I was in college at USF, and I actually got my internship to be transferred here from another school because I wanted to be here so much.

“My dad graduated, Class of 1965 from Lincoln High and just coming here, it feels like home. To be connected to the community, to feel like I could make a difference, or I could be an influence in some kids lives.”