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A team of six special education teachers at Kewaunee grade and middle schools are some of this year’s recipients of Golden Apple Awards.
USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

The Green Bay Press-Gazette is highlighting the accomplishments of some of the top teachers in Northeastern Wisconsin. Five outstanding educators and two education teams were selected as recipients of this year’s Golden Apple Awards, a program driven by Partners in Education, part of the Greater Green Bay Chamber.

In the Kewaunee School District a team of six teachers works with special education students in kindergarten through eighth-grade.

David Chaudoir, Katie Krohn, Sandy Morton, Jason Rohr, Nick Rusboldt and Carrie Siebold are united in a passion for teaching that helps their students and sets them on a course for future success.

For their efforts, the team received a 2017 Golden Apple Award through the Greater Green Bay Chamber’s Partners in Education program.

How did you decide to become a teacher?

Jason Rohr: During high school I was in our school’s youth tutoring program, worked with our city summer recreation program and helped run the youth tee ball program. I already knew I wanted to be a teacher, I just wasn’t sure which area to specialize in. I was lucky enough to be placed in a special education classroom as a tutor. My experience there was awesome and after spending the year in that classroom I knew that I wanted to be a special education teacher.

Sandy Morton: My cousin, Heather, was my inspiration to become a special education teacher. Heather had an (Individualized Education Plan) because of her physical needs. We were extremely close and I learned how important it was to advocate for her to ensure that she had the best education possible. She passed away at age eleven, but she had a huge impact on my teaching career. I strive to make sure that all students have their needs met and want them to know I believe in them each and every day!

What do you like best about teaching?

Katie Krohn: Teaching is very rewarding for many reasons, but for me the best part is seeing student growth day to day and long term. We often get to keep the same students for more than one year, really get to know them, and see how they grow over a longer time frame. We are also in a very interesting environment where our elementary, middle and high schools are all connected; so we get to see how our students develop beyond our time with them. It’s really amazing to walk down the halls and see students who are in middle school now, that we had when they were in kindergarten. 

David Chaudoir: Education is the only profession I can think of that allows me to wear many hats. I can be a teacher, counselor, mentor, or friend within an eight hour school day. Working in special education provides much needed diversity to my day — especially with middle school students. I work with unique learning styles, different backgrounds, and with a variety of subjects. It can be stressful, but no two days are the same. I genuinely enjoy my job, and feel rewarded every time former students approach me in the community.

What are the challenges of your job?

Carrie Siebold: The challenges of our job is that we work with students of different disabilities and needs. We need to modify the teacher’s lessons and assessments in order to meet the needs of our students and their individual learning style. We write Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) for each student every year along with frequent contact with parents/guardians. Another challenge we face is that we work with a variety of grade levels and teachers. We need to find time to meet with them frequently to make sure we are all meeting the needs of all our students.Overall, every day is different. We never know what type of behavior, academic, or life skills we will be encountering or teaching. 

Is there a specific student or situation that stands out in your mind as a highlight of your career experience?

Nick Rusboldt: There are countless students that stand out to me when it comes to my nine years of teaching. Making connections and building relationships are an extremely important part of my job. They are also my favorite part of my job. One student who stands out moved to Kewaunee at the beginning of his 6th-grade school year and only stayed in the district for one year. I had the opportunity to work with him closely. He always worked very hard, even when things were tough for him. We also shared many of the same interests. After the student moved away he kept in contact with me and we are still in contact to this day (he’s a junior in high school). What I learned from this student is not only that I could have a lasting impact on kids, but also that students could have a lasting impact on me.

Tell us something about yourself people would be surprised to learn.

Jason:  I have a passion for sports. I played college baseball and helped start up and currently run the Kewaunee County Sluggers baseball program and coach youth fastpitch in Kewaunee and Tisch Mills. I also still play pickup basketball with my friends. 

Chaudoir: It may come as a surprise to learn that I have a degree in police science as well as K-12 cross categorical special education. I am also a sports fanatic, so teaching for fifteen years has provided me many opportunities to be involved with athletics as well. I have been a youth sports coordinator for the YMCA, I have coached varsity baseball as well as eighth grade basketball, I have coached special olympics, and I have served as the middle school athletic director. My current goal is to coach my son’s T-ball team without losing my hair.

Siebold: I showed hogs and beef cattle at the Kewaunee County Fair when I was younger and won Grand and Reserve Champions. I also sold them at the auction and the money I received helped me through college to become a teacher. I had a passion for the fair and became the 2004 Fairest of the Fair, where I represented Kewaunee County at different events. I am very honored and fortunate to have built so many friendships and learned many things to help me through life. 

Morton: I am fortunate to own a boutique in Kewaunee with my mom, aunt, and a good friend.  It is a second job that is very different from teaching! My three daughters love to work there (almost as much as they love to play in my classroom after school) and my husband has been a great maintenance man. Our community has been very supportive of our business and some of our best customers are school staff!

Rusboldt: This past summer my wife and I adopted two amazing little boys from Florida. Their names are Theo and James. They have been a blessing and my wife and I couldn’t be happier. I also have an awesome son named Cameron who is a senior in high school.

Krohn: I am an avid gardener.  I love to grow perennials from seeds, cuttings and from bulbs. My husband and I are currently in the process of putting a greenhouse in our backyard to give us a space to start all of our own plants. My husband and I also have an interest in agroforestry, and are actively looking in to planting trees on our property to promote that kind of system. 

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