LA CROSSE, Wis. - "I've always liked challenged kids," said Kathryn Berger, La Crosse School District teacher.
For the past 16-years, Berger's classroom has been located in the Juvenile Detention Center in La Crosse's Health and Human Services Building. It's a secure facility for children who have committed a crime.
"Every day you're juggling new kids," said Berger.
Today, Berger is teaching five kids between the ages of ten and 17 who are waiting for their day in court. While they wait for due process, they go to school.
"The school district has been fabulous with providing us with not only the teachers, but with computers, with materials, programs," said David Steinberg, Western Regional Adolescent Services superintendent.
"Our goal is to make them feel at home and give them the best shot of success when they get outside here," said Regina Siegel, director of pupil services and learning supports for the La Crosse School District.
Siegel says Kathryn and fellow Juvenile Detention Center teacher Tammy McRoberts excel at assessing students, connecting with them and teaching. These two women were named Teachers of the Year by the Wisconsin Detention Educators Association.
"So, our teachers really have to be skilled and adept at meeting a student who is sometimes only going to be with us a few hours," said Siegel. "Sometimes they're going to be with us 365 days; finding what they need. What are they deficient in or what are they gifted and talented in."23820608
"Every day is a new adventure," said Tammy McRoberts, La Crosse School District teacher.
McRoberts is teaching in the non-secure side of the detention center called the Western Regional Adolescent Center or WRAC.
"I have new students coming and going each day," said McRoberts.
These students are usually foster children waiting to be placed with a family or children who have misdemeanors. Steinberg is the superintendent of both facilities within the county building.
"Now they come here and they still get credit for what they're doing," said Steinberg. "And we're not fulfilling that cycle of creating delinquent youth."
"These kids are the adults who are going to be in this community in the future," said McRoberts. "And this is their best shot. Education is their best shot."
Which is what motivates this newly named educator of the year to work as hard as she can to hopefully keep these kids from making bad choices as adults.
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