ANKENY, Iowa -- Prairie Trail Elementary is one of the largest elementary schools in the Ankeny Community School District but a kindergarten teacher there makes it her mission to make not just the students in her class feel like they matter -- but all students.
There's just one thing. She wants them to follow her rule of being kind.
"That`s all I can want from them is to make sure kids are included at recess and that they treat others like they want to be treated," says teacher, Jennifer Balvanz.
Balvanz, who her students refer to as Mrs. B, says she learned the value of kindness from her mother who once worked at a school as a lunch lady and crossing guard.
"She has taught me the value of those roles and how it really does take a village and those people are also the leaders that show our kids. It's not just teachers," she says.
Mrs. B stresses to her students, kindness can help them achieve great things along with the help other others in their corner. She says, "I feel like if the community is involved, the kids are involved and the administration is involved with everyone working together everything will be okay for that child."
The teacher was awarded the Golden Apple Award, which she called the "greatest honor" she had ever received.
"She radiates so much love and kindness and just serves them and helps them reach their fullest potential," says parent, Sonya Graber who nominated the teacher for the award.
Balvanz has taught at the Prairie Trail Elementary since it opened six years ago.