GOLDEN APPLE: December Winner

Some fourth graders may have trouble staying interested in their schoolwork but one Iowa Falls – Alden teacher has found a way to keep her students excited.  She gets them involved in the community.

Some teachers are more than just educators.

“I felt like she put all the attention on me and helped me through rough times and understanding them better,” said student Jackson Kobe.

Some teachers understand life inside and outside the classroom.

“She was never condescending, saying your child needs to be medicated,” said mother Sara Kobe.

When doctors diagnosed Jackson with ADHD, Sara worried her son would fall behind in school.  Teacher Susan Jones helped Jackson engage in learning.

“It was all just her being a caring person and wanting to have Jackson succeed,” said Sara Kobe.

Susan did just that for countless other fourth graders and it is why the Kobe family nominated her for the award.

“It’s amazing going to work every day at a job you love, knowing that it impacts the kids you teach and their parents too.  It’s something I’m very proud of,” Jones said.

She gives them something to be proud of like the Fourth Grade Store.  There students learn to sell items, handle money and run a business.

“We do this not to provide just the life skills but we also raise money and try to do something good with that,” Jones said.

In 11 years, the store has raised more than $36,000.  That money has helped train 36 Leader Dogs for the visually impaired.

“This isn’t just kids playing with puppies.  This is kids doing a service for people,” Jones said.

The impact the store has had on the community as a result is impressive.

“The important thing about education is that we’re not trying to teach them things they’ll use just in school,” said Rock Run Elementary School Principal Mike Swartzendruber.

Jones hopes the future of education moves past traditional classroom practices and toward helping kids succeed in all areas.

“It’s not a job to me.  This is what I do, this is what I live for,” Jones said.

The leader dogs are used across the county.

Watch the extended interview with Susan Jones.

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