The tears, however, were tears of joy, and the school assembly was in her honor.
Trotter received the American Star of Teaching award from the U.S. Department of Education Friday afternoon in the school cafeteria, during a surprise assembly that included all of the students, teachers, administrators and school board members.
The honor was developed in 2004 as part of the department of education's Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative and is annually awarded to one teacher per state.
Trotter was nominated by her sister Merlina McCullough, a reading specialist with the Mountain Home School District, and was chosen by a selecting committee from over 4,000 nominations.
Trotter was given the award for her consistent record of improving student achievement, said Tracy Mulvenon, a representative from the Department of Education who traveled from D.C. to present the award. "The teacher is everything in the classroom. You have a teacher who is everything, everyday," Mulvenon said. "We need more people like you."
With the exception of Trotter's family and school administrators, no one knew about the award. Elementary Principal David Turnbough told Trotter to attend the assembly, saying it would focus on incorporating new teaching techniques in the classroom.
"This was a complete shock," Trotter said after the presentation assembly. "But I was getting suspicious. I?smelled a rat when I saw my mother ... and my family outside (outside the cafeteria) lined up graduation style."
Trotter's family worked all week to keep the award a secret. She said her husband told her to dress up Friday morning because they were going to do something special that evening.
"I?knew something was up. He (Trotter's husband) had to approve my outfit this morning," Trotter said laughing. "I?just thought we were going to the Bamboo Garden to eat or something."
Trotter, who is a national board certified teacher, has 10 years of education experience under her belt. She taught at Mountain Home and has been with the Salem School District for six years.
"She's been a great teacher and an honor to work with," Turnbough said.
"Mylet's so creative. She thinks of different ways to make lessons interesting to students," McCullough said. "She really goes above and beyond."
"She'll do role-playing with students to help them learn," Mulvenon said. " And she works to keep her parents updated with what's going on in the classroom ... She sends daily communication notebooks home with students so parents can write to her with any questions."
Trotter said she likes to keep her kids active in the learning process. "That's what keeps them interested," she said.
Putting on plays, role-playing as parts of the body, cooking, rapping and even creating chants with choreographed jumps and stomps are among some of the ways Trotter keeps her students interested. "You've got to keep it fun," Trotter said.
Perhaps the fun is why Trotter's students love her. Their pride was evident as the excitement calmed and Trotter returned to her classroom after the assembly.
She was greeted by homemade confetti and claps and hugs, and each of the classroom computers were programmed with a special message. "You rule; you are cool; Mrs. Trotter is awesome," were some of the screen savers rolling across the monitors.
Though the students soon exited the classroom for recess, Trotter's own excitement didn't end. "You know this is such an unexpected honor, but so many of my colleagues do so much. Everyone of them are just as deserving. I hate to sound corny," she laughed, "but we really are a family (at Salem Elementary).