Interest in students puts teacher in a class above | Community Spirit
A Wisconsin Dells teacher with three decades as an educator is recognized by her students for her involvement and the effort she takes to care.
Jan Hess, who teaches seventh- and eighth-grade social studies at Spring Hill School, made such an impression on five former students that they nominated her to be featured as News 3's Top-notch Teacher of the month.
Maria Kuzyk said Hess went beyond a teacher’s duties.
"She was very kind and cared for you,” Kuzyk said. "If there [were] any problems, she’d help you through them."
Another former student, Katelyn Brunn, said Hess also helps her students make the milestone transition from middle school to high school.
“She helped us a lot,” Brunn said. "She got us classes that we should take and just like extra things that we should keep in mind when we’re in high school and not be afraid."
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Hess said what she teaches her students about the world is as important as her focus on the welfare of the kids.
"I do care about them individually," Hess said. "I care about their families and what's happening in their lives. If I can touch them, if I can make a connection with them, they tend to do better in my classroom."
Hess said she likes to focus classwork on culture.
"We do take time in our classroom to expose everyone to the culture, to the dance, the music, [and] the food which they really enjoy," Hess added.
Her time working with students often takes her out of the classroom. Hess keeps up with her students’ extracurricular activities. In fact, she said her husband is usually wondering when her day is over.
"He'll call me and [he] says, ‘When are you coming home?" Hess explained. "[I'll say], ‘Just another half-hour, I'm just leaving the volleyball game’ or ‘I'm leaving the tennis match.’"
That dedication isn’t lost on her students, like Hans Obois.
"She's been at all my home football games last year," Obois said. "She would be up in the stands cheering us on."
Hess brings energy and passion to school each day. It’s been that way for her 31 years in the Dells district. Students like Ashley Gabris and Kristina Szymusiak agree Hess’s interest in her students puts her in a class all by herself.
"I felt comfortable with her and talked about anything," Szymusiak said.
"She's not just a teacher, she's like a friend to everyone," Gabris added.