ANKENY, Iowa -- A middle school literacy teacher says school is her life and she likes it that way.
"Balancing work and school can be hard. School is my hobby, too. So it's really difficult to find that perfect balance to be there for my kids at home and my kids at school. It's hard to shut it off," says Joni Klemesrud.
Klemesrud, a teacher at Parkview Middle School, says her best friends, sister and mom are all educators, but she almost didn't follow their same path.
"I actually started off as a pre - law major and I went and did some volunteer work at Waterloo Schools and fell in love and changed my major the next day," she smiles.
The change of heart is something students like Praze Buchan are thankful for.
"It feels like there are some teachers who are just there to teach, but Mrs. Klemesrud is there to make sure you are better than yourself and just the best person you can be," she explains. Buchan nominated her former teacher for the Golden Apple Award, praising her ability to not only teach literature but also the importance of kindness. It's something the Klemesrud says is more important now than ever in a growing school district.
"I grew up in a small town and I actually started the first part of my teaching career in a very small K - 12 building so I guess it`s really important that there is a sense of security in my classroom. I want every child to feel important, so I make it a priority to make sure every kid knows they matter."
Klemesrud has taught at Parkview Middle School for two years.