KEWANEE, Ill. — Each year, News 8 looks for the five teachers who are exceptional by asking students to nominate MY FAVORITE TEACHER. Each is honored with an award presented by a grateful student.
Education is all about opening doors and revealing surprises.
And Caleb Neuleib had a surprise for Mrs. Malerie Schmidt.
"Mrs. Schmidt, you're My Favorite Teacher", he said as he handed her a trophy.
"Are you serious? Can I hug you?"
In a time of COVID-19, every hug is special.
Mrs. Schmidt was honored because her class said she does something effortlessly.
"She makes boring stuff fun," said Caleb.
For nine years, Malerie Schmidt has taught children from pre-school to high school and she now has this fourth grade class at Kewanee Wethersfield.
And Caleb is thankful.
He told us so in his letter.
"She's a great teacher because it must be super hard to teach crazy kid's, especially in a year like this," he wrote.
And Caleb couldn't be more right.
"We're always doing something hand's on and to have that taken away from me, I felt bad," said Mrs. Schmidt.
"I felt this year was kinda boring and stressful and everything. But they've been amazing."
And they've all learned to adapt together.
"This has been a crazy year, year and a half, and you guys have been awesome all the way through and, seriously, you guys just made my entire year," she told her 4th Grade class.
Teaching in the midst of a pandemic hasn't been easy.
"It's been extremely tough," she admitted.
Keeping the attention of fourth graders isn't easy either.
"They're old enough to be independent and you can have real discussions with them, but they're still you enough to have fun and joke around."
Even in the midst of a pandemic.
"You guys have no idea how much this means to me," she told them.
Somehow you know they know.
It's been a very difficult year made easier with a good teacher and a good class.
"Air hugs and air high 5's because you guys are really rock stars."