This month's Top Notch Teacher comes to us from Viroqua Elementary School, where parents and staff say Jennifer Peterson 'goes above and beyond' what a normal teacher does for her kids.
Peterson has been working at Viroqua for seven years, as an early childhood special education teacher. She teaches children between the ages of 3 and 5 who may have physical, mental or behavioral disabilities.
"I fell in love with this age group and what I'm doing and the kids, and I wouldn't change it for the world," Peterson says of her job.
It's not the kind of position that just any teacher can excel at.
"The reason Ms. Peterson shines is because of the type of person she is - she is open, she is friendly," said Principal Ryan Rieber.
Peterson works with children at their earliest stage of education, as soon as they're eligible for classes at age 3. She's known to visit her students at home after the schoolday has ended to lend parents a hand. Whether it's in the classroom or in their living rooms, Ms. Peterson will go the extra mile to ensure she's there to help.
"If its helps me to help them, I want to be able to do everyhting I can to help these kids," she said.
Oftentimes, Ms. Peterson will teach the same children for three years over the course of her program, helping to prep them for the challenege ahead in kindergarten.
"The skills they develop in order to get to that point where they can go forward and take those next steps, is the foundation that Jenny's starting with them," Rieber said.
"I grow very attached to these little kiddos and to have them go on to another teacher is very sad, but also its very nice to see them grow up and be successful," Peterson said.
But it's not just these kids that Ms. Peterson is helping - it's her fellow staff, as well.
"She's so giving of herself and time and energy and experience, having somebody like that, it makes everybody's jobs easier, Rieber said.
Peterson is actually the third teacher from Viroqua's school district to receive the top notch award - Principal Rieber has also been awarded it.