Carolyn Pinckney, a teacher at Washington's Bunker Hill Elementary School who said "education is the most important tool for our children," has won the public school system's second teacher-of-the-year award.

The honor qualifies the 44-year-old Pinckney to participate in the upcoming national Teacher of the Year Award Program.

Pinckney was selected from six finalists, each of them named best teacher in her school.

"I am so proud to have Carolyn Pinckney receive this award," said Superintendent Floretta McKenzie as she addressed an audience of teachers and parents at Brookland Elementary School in Northeast. "I knew she was good all the time because she taught my children."

The finalists were picked by a committee of school officials and educators on the basis of recommendations from colleagues, parents and administrators.

The other finalists: Drucilla Clark, Smothers Elementary in Northeast; Jennifer Gibbs, Jefferson Junior High in Southwest; Christine Easterling, Burdick Career Development Center in Northeast; Venda Jennings, Eliot Junior High in Northeast, and Theresa Richardson, Washington Highland Elementary in Southeast.

Pinckney has taught here 22 years and is teaching gifted pupils in the second and third grades.

"I am so proud of her I think she is just a lovely woman in addition to being a fine teacher," said Carolyn Preston, principal of Bunker Hill.

Pinckney said she was "thrilled and honored to represent The District of Columbia and all the excellent teachers in our school system."

"I think she's a great teacher," said Bennie Adams, a second grade pupil of Pinckney's and secretary of his class, after he handed Pinckney a bouquet of roses.