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The Hood Magazine

Hood Magazine 2020 Educator of the Year Nominations Sponsored by Vern Eide Motorcars

Mar 31, 2020 ● By The Hood Magazine
Ms. Lambert, Preschool Teacher at Baltic School
Nominated By: Kenli Torticill
Lindsey is a wonderful teacher & a favorite of both students & parents. We were blessed to have her as our daughter’s teacher 4 years ago. She teaches both morning & afternoon sessions of preschool at Baltic. Lindsey loves our children like they are her own while providing a fun environment for learning. At the end of each school year, each child is presented with a box of memories-a wonderful keepsake of the time they spent learning, playing & making friends at preschool. I’ve seen her classroom transformed into castles & pirate ships, Dr Seuss themes. When she’s not chasing after her own children (mom of 5) or teaching preschool, you can find Lindsey cheering on her previous students at their sporting events or coaching track. 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Lambert!

Ms. Even, Early Childhood Special Education/Preschool at Tri-Valley Elementary
Nominated By: Cole Hoenisch

As one who inspires and molds the young minds of Tri-Valley’s future, through Early Childhood Education, Mrs. Jennifer Even is a deserving nominee for Teacher of the Year.   To say that we are grateful to have her teach our child for a second year in a row would be an understatement.  Tri-Valley has an exceptional staff all around, but she is truly on a level of her own.  Many of her students face challenges beyond the classroom that make it hard for one to comprehend.  She embraces each need and exceeds all expectations.   Due to personal challenges early in life, we were told from professionals that our son would have a developmental delay and likely be at least a year or two behind others his age, academically.  Mrs. Even has brought about a level of confidence and potential in our son that we did not anticipate seeing so soon.  Thanks to her dedication, caring soul, and enthusiasm to see her students succeed, he has met his goals, both academically and socially.  Thanks to Mrs. Even, he will be advancing to Kindergarten, on time, at age five.   While time in the classroom is crucial, much of Mrs. Even’s time is also dedicated to assessing specific needs and assisting in the assembly of Individualized Education Programs for her students.  She works alongside an extraordinary team of specialists to configure the best strategy and plan so each child is given an optimal opportunity for success.  Her flexibility in scheduling activities around the ins and outs of the students’ various therapy sessions is unparalleled.  She strives to help each child meet their individual goals and is a profound pillar of support, both in school and out.  Mrs. Even understands that students grow and thrive on their own time, and simply provides them the tools and encouragement to do so.  Whether it be building ice castles to show different states of matter, using magnifying glasses to spy sight words, or following clues to locate a lost gingerbread man (our son’s favorite!), she uses fun and unique methods to keep her students excited about and engaged in learning.  Students in Mrs. Even’s class are also assigned daily jobs to help teach the importance of kindness and responsibility, even at a young age.  As cliché as it may sound, she truly pours her heart and soul into what she does and her passion for helping kids is evident.    The open line of communication Mrs. Even aspires to keep parents feeling involved is remarkable.  Along with weekly newsletters and monthly calendars of basic highlights and curriculum, we often receive photos or emails from her, showing us a glimpse of their day.  Most come outside of school hours, during her own personal time.  It is not something we ask of her, but one of the many ways she goes above and beyond to include us in classroom adventures.  If a student is struggling, she recommends ways we can continue to work with them at home.  When a student is absent, she lets them know they are missed.  She wants them to know they matter.  She simply wants her students to succeed and have fun doing so. Their happiness is her success, and their success is her happiness.   Mrs. Jennifer Even is an educational professional who impacts lives well beyond a certain grade level.  We are extremely fortunate to have her in our school and in our community.  Regardless of whether or not she receives the Teacher of the Year award, she has won the hearts of her students and their families. 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Even!

Mr. Raaen, 6th-8th Grade English Teacher at Sioux Falls Lutheran
Nominated By: Hudson Connell
He has been my son’s favorite teacher for the last three years. He does a great job interacting with the kids yet maintaining discipline & focus in the classroom.
Click here to hear a special message from Mr. Raaen!

Ms. Johnson, 2nd Grade Teacher at Brandon Elementary
Nominated By: Ryker Rothenbuheler
She is an amazing teacher who makes a difference every day in the life of her students!
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Johnson!

Ms. Bogue, Teacher at Hawthorne Elementary
Nominated By: Payton Thompson

Miss Bogue is a godsend to my son.  She is loving and patient to every child that crosses her door, taking time to know them and their families.  She communicates with every parent to inform them of how their child is doing and takes extra time with children who need it.  My six year old has flourished this year as a result of this teacher and I could not be happier with his progress.

Mr. Thompson, Lead Teacher at Discovery Learning Center South
Nominated By: Syah Hardy

My 5 year old daughter is speech autistic where she can speak 3 languages. We transferred from a small in-home daycare (max: 6 kids) where my daughter was not exceling in any areas pertaining to her educational goals and personal-social goals. Within 2 days, of transferring to Discovery Learning Center South my daughter was out of pull ups, back in underwear and fully back potty trained. She was age 4 turning 5 in a matter of weeks and this was a major issue that our old daycare did not assist in sticking to routine with. Mr. Joe has also been persistent in sticking with my daughter's IEP (individual educational plan) plan in coherence with my daughter's school program. He has had my daughter excel above and beyond her educational goals past what was set with the school district's IEP (individual educational plan) plan. Her speech has improved significantly where as we struggled initially transferring from our old in-home daycare where my daughter barely spoke let alone respond correctly. Her personality is now more bright and she is more social and making friends where as before she preferred to play alone. My daughter is now able to express her wants and needs with clear verbal sentences. Mr. Joe is also a specialized special education teacher and I am so grateful we found him and have him as a daycare teacher for my daughter. He truly loves what he does and has been a major blessing for us. 
Click here to hear a special message from Mr. Thompson!

Ms. Schneider, 5th Grade Teacher at Baltic Elementary
Nominated By: Xanthia Lemons

Mrs. Schneider has been teaching at Baltic for 22 years! She is more than a teacher. She is an integral part of the Baltic Elementary! My daughter is extremely lucky to have Mrs. Schneider as a 5th grade teacher. She is teaching her more than just the required subjects. She is teaching her how to be a responsible young person. She is getting her ready for her upcoming middle school years. Mrs. Schneider has so many great qualities. She is extremely patient with all of her students and this lady knows how to multitask like no one else I have ever met!! Mrs. Schneider's ability to engage every type of learner in her classroom is something that not every teacher has the ability to do and for that I am grateful. My daughter isn't a top student or a typical learner so I appreciate all she has done to help my daughter succeed in her classroom this year. You can tell that Mrs. Schneider is more than dedicated to teaching, it is what she was born to do. I am forever grateful for Mrs. Schneider. 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Schneider!

Mr. Kricvacha, 4th Grade Teacher at Brandon Elementary
Nominated By: Micah Rothenbuhler

Mr K. does an amazing job with the kids every day, and in 4th grade he goes above and beyond preparing the students in Brandon for the next step in becoming responsible and ready for 5th and 6th grade in the Intermediate school. He is patient and kind, and just an overall wonderful educator! He also coaches various sports and helps kids grow in this area of their lives as well!
Click here to hear a special message from Mr. Kricvacha!

Ms. Munsch, Kindergarten Teacher at Robert Frost Elementary
Nominated By: Brody Fauth

This is Mrs. Munsch's first year as a Kindergarten teacher at Robert Frost and the impact she has had on her class, specifically my son is astounding. She teaches the class yoga and breathing techniques to give the students options to calm themselves, which my son does at home as well. This school year started out tough for my Kindergartener as he adjusted to school. Mrs. Munsch was so thoughtful and caring in laying the foundation for him to be successful in school.  Mrs. Munsch is patient with the students and uses so many out of the box ideas to help each and every student succeed in her class. Her communication with the parents is phenomenal, she never hesitates to pick up the phone and relay how your student is doing, good or bad. My son is excited to learn and go to school; which is the best gift an educator can give to a child!
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Munsch!

Ms. Jones, Principal at Hawthorn Elementary
Nominated By: Payton

Mrs. Jones has been an amazing help to us this year as we have been working through some struggles with our son. She is always so patient and kind and willing to work with us and the teachers to find a solution. She communicates with us regularly and has been instrumental in getting what we need to help our son succeed in all his classes. Honestly everyone that we have been working with at Hawthorne to find solutions and answers for him have been amazing. I don't think we could have asked for a better school to have our son at. 

Tony Waterman, Bus Driver and Other School Support in Tea
Nominated By: Easten and Carson

Tony is a very caring, compassionate person. He kindly waits for the children to get on the bus even on those days that he can tell our household is running behind. The children love Tony. They are alway speaking highly of him and how kind he is. He makes riding the bus enjoyable. Tony never turns down a high five when my children see him out in public.  
Click here to hear a special message from Tony!

Ms. Lewis, Kindergarten Teacher at Brandon Elementary
Nominated By: Carter

Miss Lewis is a phenomenal teacher that goes above and beyond to make every child feel welcome, loved, and encouraged.  She has made the transition so smooth for kids starting school in kindergarten. We appreciate her effective communication with parents.  We also appreciate her creativity to help kids learn through active, hands-on activities that are engaging for five and six year olds. Miss Lewis’ nurturing personality has helped our son gain so much confidence and has really helped him to love learning!  

Ms. Wagner, Kindergarten Teacher at Rosa Parks
Nominated By: Tyler, Mateo, and Cruz

My mom has been there since day one teaching me and helping me to grow in so many ways!  She has always been there to push me to do my best and I know she does this for her students as well.  She is the reason I wanted to become a teacher because of her love and passion for what she does everyday.  She gives so much of her time and energy to making sure her students are getting exactly what each of them need!  She even does this with my children as well teaching them and helping them grow.  She has dedicated so many years to her profession and inspired myself along with so many others! 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Wagner! 
Ms. King, Special Ed Coordinator/Teacher at Centerville Public School
Nominated By: Davin and Walker Bendert

Julie is an amazing resource at our school! She has helped me through all kinds of special needs with my children. From sensory, adhd to learning disabilities. She goes into school an hour early to help kiddos on homework. Stays late as well!  Making phone calls on a Sunday to line up a meeting. She never puts the kids down and always believes in them! I believe she has worked for the centerville school district in special ed since 1981 after leaving the military.  Julie is definitely an amazing educator with her calm, happy helpful demeanor. We are truly lucky to have her!

Ms. Wipf, Administrative Assistant at Baltic Elementary
Nominated By: Xanthia Lemons

Brittany is one of the most important people at Baltic Elementary. She may not be a teacher, but to my daughter, Xanthia, she has played an important role in her life this past year. Brittany is first person you see when you come into the school. She is "on the front lines" every day. Overall, 5th grade has been tough for Xanthia. With her medical issues, mental health challenges, her Dad being gone for over a year on his third deployment, and just trying to navigate regular 5th grade/young girl things.. It's been an overwhelming time for Xanthia. Brittany has been a shining light for not only Xanthia, but for me as a parent. She always has a smile on her face and even in her voice when she picks up the phone. Brittany has been a huge help and comfort for Xanthia. She has gone above and beyond the duties of an administrative assistant. She is there for smiles, hugs, a quick chat or anything Xanthia might need. The compassion that Brittany has shown Xanthia is something that deserves recognition and celebration. I can't begin to say how thankful I am that Brittany is in our lives and at Baltic Elementary. She is true asset and vital part of each day. 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Wifp!

Ms. Smith, Kindergarten Teacher at John F. Kennedy Elementary
Nominated By: Eli Lambertz

Mrs. Smith is amazing in so many ways. When I first met Mrs. Smith at Kindergarten Roundup I knew she would be the right teacher for Eli. She walked up to our family and the first person she addressed was Eli. That made Eli very comfortable in a new situation. Now, Eli say's everyday that the greatest thing about his day was his teacher. She has a way with children that empowers them to be who they are. The way she presents the materials is in such a fun way that the kids enjoy it. Everyday Eli comes home with something new he has learned.  Mrs. Smith is a great communicator to the parents and I never feel lost in what my child is learning or where he falls with in the guidelines for his age. Eli is my oldest child so when he started school I was a little nervous about his safety, adjusting and education and she has been the rock behind it all. Mrs. Smith has the heart of a saint and is always looking out for her students. She has started Eli's school education in the right direction and he loves school! Thank you Mrs. Smith for all you do!
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Smith!

Ms. Even, Special Education/ Early Childhood Preschool at Tri-Valley Elementary
Nominated By: Avery

Mrs. Even has been a staple of Avery's first 2 years of preschool. Avery began attending Early Childhood education at the age of 3. Mrs. Even began teaching her when she was 3 1/2 years old and we noticed an immediate change in Avery. She was excited to learn. She wanted to go to school. She came home excited to talk about what they had done that day! Early Childhood Development and Special Education in general can be a very daunting and exhausting specialty to get into. You have different and challenging behaviors and physical needs to deal with. Kids come and go out of the classroom with needed therapies interrupting class time. She takes it all in stride and with a focused and patient heart. I have sat in on a couple of days with Avery due to some physical requirements. Mrs. Even is patient, intentional and loving with all of "her kids". I say "her kids" because she treats each of them like her own. She will call, text or email with as much as excitement as I feel when Avery does something new or she sees something "click". I can only imagine the hours upon hours she puts into each lesson and activity to help each of her students understand and learn.   Avery spent 6 weeks out of class this fall for a surgery and rehabilitation stay in St. Paul. Each week, Mrs. Even would make sure that she had the activities that the rest of the class was working on so that she felt included and didn't feel like she was missing out. She sent worksheets, activities and notes from the students. Then, she would take time out of their busy school day to FaceTime with Avery so she could see everyone and say hello. To say that it boosted her morale is an understatement. Six weeks away from her "normal" was so hard and to be included and so cared for made all of the difference! She didn't have to do all of this. She could've said "see you in 6 weeks" and left it at that. But she cares so deeply for these kids and their success.   Each of the kids in Mrs. Even's class is in the class for a reason, whether that be a learning, emotional or physical disability. These kids are already considered "behind" by some standards. Mrs. Even has never treated or looked at them that way. Her goal is to prepare them for kindergarten no matter what stage of learning they are. Her kindness and compassion are felt by the special events and projects that she puts together and all of it is wrapped up in her love and kind heart.   Mrs. Even has made it a priority to inform parents of what their children are learning and doing in school. She sends home daily reports on what they did and how each child responded to activities. She will often send home photos that she's taken during the school day of each child working on projects or learning something new. All of this is far from a requirement in her already lengthy list of commitments. But she goes above and beyond, every day!  Being a great teacher doesn't come with a degree or a certificate you can hang on the wall. It comes with a whole lot of hard work, dedication and a heart for the children under their care and Mrs. Even has this, x100! Finding a teacher like her is rare and we are so blessed to have her to teach Avery. You would be acknowledging the diligent and hard work of a more than deserving teacher and she would probably be humble and act like she didn't deserve it because she does it all for the kids. Her kids. 
Click here to hear a speical message from Ms. Even!

Ms. Hankel, 1st Grade Teacher at Discovery Elementary
Nominated By: Collin
I have a son who has been struggling with school for 2.5 years now. He struggles with attention, behaviors, self-esteem, and emotions. He is very hard on himself because he feels different than others. Mrs. Hankel does an amazing job, going out of her way to help him feel secure, worthy, brilliant, and confident. She sends him postcards at home every week telling him something positive about himself. She not only has spent this year getting to know him, but she's also an amazing teacher to the rest of the kids in her classroom.  She is an absolute gem. This is the most positive year my son has had!
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Hanke!

Ms. Eckmann, Kindergarten Teacher at Iroquois School
Nominated By: Brady Siefert

Jessica is an amazing teacher. She helps each of her students reach their highest potential (on an individual basis). She is great at facilitating relationships between the kids as they are learning friendships.  *Jessica saw the drive in my son.  She saw that he was "bored" in class because he had already understood the content and wasn't being challenged. She worked with other teachers in the school and utilized their "Little Chief Time" to give him advanced work and kept his mind busy.

Ms.Retzer, Kindergarten Teacher at Lincoln
Nominated By: Jaiden

She has went above and beyond for my children which our oldest will be 18 this year. She has a way of teaching that can't be replaced.

Mr. Rotert, Counselor at Harrisburg Freedom Elementary
Nominated By: Lennan Small

Mr. Rotert is nice and cares about his students and helps them have the best day possible. He went out of his way to help me when I got very sad after the death of a pet by talking with me and sharing a special story book.

Ms. Maxwell, Preschool Teacher at St. Mary's Dell Rapids School
Nominated By: Ellie Milot Need

This woman is a inspiration to everyone. She has been teaching for 20 years and is the only reason that Ellie went to where she is going. She is kindhearted yet firm and handles a class this year of 14 little ones by herself. She has taken Ellie in and taught her respect , kindness, sympathy and Mrs. Maxwell cares for each student. She goes to their events and purchase items for her room knowing full well it comes out of her own pocket. She is a rock in the community and I have never heard anyone speak poorly of her. With Ellie’s traumatic events , Mrs Maxwell takes this time of year with stride and patience. I know I couldn’t raise Ellie without her great support each week ! Please choose Mrs. Maxwell and show her the amazing love that I know everyone feels for her! 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Maxwell!

Ms. Dreke, Kindergarten Teacher at Pettigrew Elementary School
Nominated By: Aaralyn Van Der Sloot
Mrs Dreke is kind, patient, and prepared when it comes to guiding the kindergartners in her classroom. She thinks of all possible scenarios and prepares for them! She goes far above and beyond for her students because she truly loves them and wants them to be successful. Mrs. Dreke teaches her students to think of others through the projects and activities she does in her classroom. She is also the student council advisor and spends countless hours preparing events for our school. She is in a class above the rest! We love her so much! 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Dreke!

Ms. Vortherms, 4th Grade Teacher at R.F. Pettigrew
Nominated By: Braxten

I can’t say enough positive and wonderful things about Mrs. Vortherms. She amazes me on how effortless she goes above and beyond for each student’s needs each day. My son is a lover of school, but has expressed numerous times that this has been his favorite year and is sad that it is going so fast. Mrs. Vortherms truly sees, hears, and feels for her class. “Teaching is a work of the heart” sincerely encompasses her and her teaching style. Blessed, grateful, honored have been Abe to experience 4th grade with the best.
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Vortherms!

Ms. Kluin, Reading Specialist at Robert Bennis Elementary
Nominated By: Allison and Max Riedel

Mrs. Kluin does an amazing job encouraging kids who are struggling with reading. She makes them feel valuable and smart and helps them read without realizing it ;) Since reading is such an integral part in school, if a student struggles with reading, he or she will struggle with math as well since word problems start in first grade!   Mrs. Kluin really helped our oldest daughter, Allison who's in 4th grade now, since the time she was in first grade. Allison no longer sees Mrs. Kluin for reading, but still talks about her and when she sees her in the halls gives her a big hug. Our second grade son has been seeing her the first half of the year as well and also has great things to say about her.   She truly loves the students and loves to see them succeed, their successes are hers and she celebrates all accomplishments with them, even the small things like it's the grandest achievement. 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Kluin!

Ms. Youngquist, 4th Grade Teacher at Discovery Elementary
Nominated By: Mollile Varcoe

“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.” -William Butler Yeats  So much of today’s teaching is standardized tests … testing seems to be what is measuring our kids’ days at school. And the deciding factor of what is determining a successful school day/year. School seems to be about checking boxes and filling pails.  And then you walk into Mrs. Youngquist’s 4th grade classroom at Discovery Elementary… and learning comes alive! The fire is lit! Each on of her students means more to her than a test score. The kids are more than their behavior. Our children are more than the baggage they bring with them each day. Each child is called by name, taught individually, and nurtured in a style that meets them where they are. Mrs. Youngquist’s lessons are colorful, relevant, engaging and inspirational. Mrs. Youngquist is what young people dream of when they want to be a teacher “when they grow up.”   Mrs. Youngquist teaches with enthusiasm and creativity. She challenges every student to be the best version of themselves. Mrs. Youngquist is the epitome of what every parent hopes for their child’s teacher – a teacher that will take the time for a big hug on a day full of anxieties, a teacher that will push your child outside of their comfort zone knowing that it will ignite a fire of learning, a teacher that never really clocks out and, on top of every other duty they’re expected to do, will send a letter over break or a leave a note in binder/desk. A teacher, that (of course!) knows worksheets are the easy way to go but will still teacher geography with salt dough, reading as exciting, spelling with technology, and homework as a treat.   To be welcomed, as a parent, into Mrs. Youngquist’s classroom, is a gift … she encourages parents to be an active part of their child’s learning. The old adage “it takes a village” is less cliché when you have Mrs. Youngquist in your village loving your child, loving all of the children. Mrs. Youngquist celebrates every child’s shining light – no matter when it burns, how it burns, where it burns. She sees the beautiful role every student plays in her teaching story – and we are grateful to be a part of this school year’s chapter.  
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Youngquist!

Ms. Greer, Kindergarten Teacher at R.F. Pettigrew
Nominated By: Brynn Dreke
Mrs Greer is a wonderful teacher. She is patient and calm and so caring towards her whole class. She has been a blessing to my daughter, who adores her. My daughter has learned so much and her love of reading and writing stories has just blossomed thanks to Mrs Greer. 
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Greer!

Ms. Renteria, 1st Grade Teacher at Sonia Sotomayor
Nominated By: Felix

I am writing along with my husband and son Felix to nominate Sra. Renteria as the 2020 Educator of the Year. At the beginning of the school year,my husband and I were contemplating sending Felix to a traditional school. Throughout the entire summer of 2019, Felix would ask weekly about when he would have to school, and that he just didn't want to go to a "Spanish School." Many of the conversations would consist of him crying and saying, "I just don't understand anything that is said, and I just want to go to an 'English' school." With the anxiety that he showed, I hesitated sending him to Sonia Sotomayor Elementary School, but my husband and I talked to and told Felix that he needed to start the school year, and if by Christmas, he was still not liking school, then we would consider going to a different school. I will never forget, after the very first day, Felix came into the car and said, "Mom, I really loved school, and I LOOOOOOVE my teacher. She's just so nice." Since that first day of school, Felix says at least a few times a week that Sra. Renteria is ''just so nice' and that "she is the best teacher." When I picked him up from school on the last day before Christmas break, he shed a couple of tears, and said he didn't want to have two weeks off, because he was going to miss his teacher. When I asked Felix what exactly it is that you love about Sra. Renteria, Felix told me, without prompting, "she believes in us – that we can do anything." Wow! Such a big statement for my little first grader to say!   Sra. Renteria also has flexible seating in the classroom, and the students can move to a different place/type of seat throughout the day or week, which has benefited Felix to be able to really focus during school. Felix started the year with not being able to read more than a few sight words, to now reading age-appropriate books in both English and Spanish. Sra. Renteria utilized the Class DoJo app, allowing students to earn points,both as a class and as individuals. This system has kept Felix motivated to stay on task, attend to classroom instruction, and demonstrate good behavior. The application informs us as parents on positive points that are given, as well as points that might be taken away. This then allows us to talk to our son about why points were deducted and what he needs to improve on, and to praise him for making good decisions and staying on task during the school day.   Sra. Renteria has made a huge impact on her students and on Felix's life. We will be forever grateful for her patience and compassion that she exhibits to all of her students on a daily basis. We will never forget that Sra. Renteria helped Felix love school so much, and to fall in love with the school that we cherish.  
Click here to hear a special message from Ms. Renteria!

Mr. Bartolome, 3rd Grade Teacher at Sonia Sotomayor
Nominated By: Oliver Carrier-Damon

 I am writing, along with my husband and son Oliver, to nominate Sr. Bartolome for the 2020 Educator of the Year. To say the least, Sr. Bartolome has over-exceeded all of our expectations of a teacher. When Oliver first found out who his teacher was, he could hardly contain his excitement. Sr. Bartolome is known to be one of the kids' favorites, and "everyone wanted him as their teacher." This entire year, Oliver has been excited every day to go to school. On multiple occasions, when asking Oliver about his school day, he will end with, "I love Sr. Bartolome, he just makes learning fun." I asked Oliver to explain that to me, and he said, "I don't know,he just makes me want to keep learning more, and school is just so fun!" Nothing makes a mother's heart happier than hearing how much your child wants to keep learning at school, and that it's fun at the same time. This year, Sr. Bartolome was also able to recognize that Oliver needed more in school than what the general 3rd grade classroom was able to give him. He referred him to be tested for the gifted program, and Oliver passed the tests with flying colors. Oliver was so excited to be part of the gifted program, and we were so happy as parents that he is able to be pushed and challenged more academically. Maybe one of the most important things that Sr. Bartolome has exemplified as a teacher is demonstrating to the students how to be an exceptional person,even outside of the classroom. Oliver came home one day, so excited because Sr. Bartolome was going to come to his basketball game! Protecting him, thinking a teacher isn't really going to show up to his basketball game, I proceeded to tell Oliver that he more than likely wouldn't be there, because he was probably busy doing other things on the weekend. We were at the basketball game, and my youngest son said, "Look mom, Sr. Bartolome is here!" Sure enough, Oliver wasn't going to be disappointed, because he really did show up to the game. After the game, Oliver came up smiling ear to ear and gave Sr. Bartolome the biggest hug. As we were leaving that day, Oliver said, "Sr. Bartolome is just the best teacher. I can't believe that he came to my game!" Showing up to the basketball game was more than watching his student play, it was setting a great example of what it's like to be a positive role model, and caring about our son not only as a student, but as an individual. Sr. Bartolome touches the lives of the students not only inside the classroom, but also in the community. As parents, it is such a blessing to be able to send your child to school every day, and not have to worry about them, as you know they are being given the best education possible. Sr. Bartolome will be a teacher that Oliver will never forget.
Click here to hear a special message from Mr. Barolome!

Ms. Treloar, Student Registration at Venture Elementary in Tea
Nominated By: Jaxson Holtrop

Amanda is always going above and beyond for the families of the Tea School District.  She understands that parenting can be hard and knows parents are doing the best they can. Jaxson has some sensory issues and knows that some days are easy and other days are harder.  In January, school was canceled due to a snow storm and Jaxson realized when he was getting ready to play in the snow, he forgot his boots at school.  I reached out to Amanda to see if by chance she was there and we could come get his boots.  She had already left for the day, but talked with Emily (the other amazing person in our schools front office) and they came to our rescue. They knew how much better the weekend would be for everyone in our family if Jaxson could have his boots instead of trying to figure out something else to wear.  I am truly thankful for that day. The thought they would come out in a storm, just to make a life for a student better.  

Ms. Rhodes, Administrative Assistant at Venture Elementary in Tea
Nominated By: Jaxson Holtrop

Emily is always going above and beyond for the families of the Tea School District.  She is never judging families and finding ways to encourage them or let them know they are doing a good job.  Jaxson has some sensory issues and struggles in the morning getting to school on time.  Some mornings are really tough to get him to go to school, instead of judging us when we walk in late, she encourages us. She always tells us we are doing a great job and finds a positive to think about. In January, school was canceled due to a snow storm and Jaxson realized when he was getting ready to play in the snow, he forgot his boots at school.  I reached out to Amanda (the other amazing person in our schools front office) to see if by chance she was there and we could come get his boots.  Amanda had left for the day, but reached out to see if Emily could pick Amanda up and come to the school for us.  Emily and Amanda came to our rescue that day and when I was talking to Emily, she was happy to come knowing that it would make our weekend so much better.  I am truly thankful for impact she is not only making our family, but all of the families in our school district!  

Mr. Thompson, Preschool Teacher at Discovery Learning Center
Nominated By: Rylynne and Dahlila Greve

I am a single mom of twins.  I moved to Sioux Falls SD from Westminster CO for my girls to have a better life.  Mr. Joe has been the sweetest and most interactive teacher my girls have had.  He is extremely understanding when I forget to pack something in the girls' back packs.  Mr. Joe makes learning fun and motivating for the kids in his class to learn.  Mr. Joe makes sure to take all of his students on many field trip each year such as to the Washington pavilion, pumpkin patch,Sky Zone, and even to the dentist for a tour and more learning.  Mr. Joe also records some of the activities in class and posts them on a private Facebook page for all parents to see what their children are doing in class daily.  Mr. Joe works more than one job just to help supply children in his classroom with the materials needed to help teach his class.  I appreciate how much Mr. Joe works to help children learn and grow everyday.  I don't know what I would do with him.  
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