North Korea is the topic of discussion in this 7th grade social studies class at Longfellow Middle School.
Jeanne Halderson has been teaching social studies and language arts at this school for... well... longer than she'd like to mention.
“I started my career at Longfellow Middle School and I've always taught 7th grade,” said Halderson.
But she will admit that wasn't always the plan.
“I didn't really think that middle school was what I wanted to do,” said Halderson. “I wanted an elementary position. And so I thought, jobs were few and far between. So I took this job. So, years later here I am.”
As it turns out, she shares a passion with many of today's teens.
“She uses the technology more,” said Connor Iverson, Longfellow Middle School 7th grader.
“My love of technology started as a young child,” said Halderson.
Like her students, Halderson has always had a love of gadgets, but incorporating technology into the classroom when she first began her teaching career started off slow.
“I wrote a two page essay to my principal at that time telling him why I needed a computer in my room,” said Halderson.
She got that computer, and eventually, a few more.
“It was probably 15 years ago that I had my first mini Mac lab in my classroom,” said Halderson.
Today, computers in the classroom are a little more common, but how often they're used varies from class to class.
“She's always doing hands on projects and stuff,” said K'leia Coats, Longfellow Middle School 7th grader.
“Once you've been in a classroom and you’ve watched children interacting with technology and the things that you can do with technology that you can't do with paper and pencil, it really changes how you look at people learning,” said Halderson.
This realization has helped Ms. Halderson inspire students by using devices they love to use.
“She just always makes me feel like I really can do it; no matter what the task is,” said Noah Raymer, Longfellow Middle School 7th grader. “I can just push myself to get to the end of it.”
This is why Ms. Halderson was awarded the 2014 Kohl Fellowship Award.
“I work here at a school where there are 65 other teachers that deserve this award,” said Halderson. “So, just because I was the one that was selected and filled out the paperwork, doesn't mean that there aren't teachers all over our district, in our school and even in neighboring districts that deserve this award.”
But this year, the honor goes to Ms. Halderson for her leadership and ability to instill a love of learning in her students.