GREEN MOUNTAIN, Iowa -- Expectations are high in Rajeen Tonner's elementary classroom. A colorful sign on her door that reads "work hard and have a little fun every day" greets fourth graders as they enter her room.
"There's not a lot of fluff, this is what it is," Tonner smiles.
The basics are covered in the classroom with added daily lessons in kindness and respect.
"We really need to get back to teaching students about humanity and how important it is to give to community."
Tonner encourages students to take a kindness journey by performing random acts of kindness in the community. She hopes this will help students realize their positive actions can have a big impact on others.
"Do I want them to remember the math facts and the reading skills? Absolutely," Tonne says. "But at the end of the day, the most important thing that I think I want them to learn and to remember is how to be kind and show kindness to one another."
Tonner was awarded the Golden Apple in front of the student body on Monday. Retired teacher Diana Thorn taught across the hall from Tonner for years and nominated her former colleague for the award.
"She just has such respect and kindness for them. That's what she teaches them and that's what they carry on," Thorn says.
Tonner is a 14-year veteran of the Green Mountain Garwin School District.