NORWALK, Iowa -- As the community of Norwalk and its school district grows, so do its teachers.
Matt Ramthun calls it home, “It feels relaxed, it feels safe but I've also had a chance to grow and get better in my career.”
The 5th grade teacher has spent his entire 16-year-career at Lakewood Elementary, with his focus set on building relationships. Relationships with students, like Sam Lemke.
“I'm grateful for Mr. Ramthun. He taught me how to do all things like, don`t give up and to do your best,” he says.
Lemke has autism. Before entering the fifth grade, he wasn’t very verbal but that all changed thanks to his teacher. Lemke’s mother, Grace, calls Ramthun a vital piece to her son’s success and self–confidence in the classroom.
“They really talked a lot about the unique gifts that each person has and some of the challenges we all face. I think it made an even playing field for everybody and I think when you do that, every student can win.”
Having since moved away from the school district, the Lemkes still nominated the teacher for the Golden Apple Award. They made a special trip back to Central Iowa to see Ramthun accept the award in front the school.
A humble man by nature, the teaching veteran claims he is just doing his job, but parents his words are leaving a lasting impact on their children.
“So many times, I hear Sam talking to himself saying ‘you can do it buddy, you got this’ and I know that those are the words Mr. Ramthun spoke into Sam every day and he`ll take those for the rest of his life.”