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Before their eyes, students learn what amazing teachers they have

UW-River Falls Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies Larry Solberg surprised Rocky Branch teacher Kit Bruesewitz (left) and Westside Elementary teacher Tori Ament with special awards March 13 and 14.

Larry Solberg, UW-River Falls dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies, Larry Solberg made two unscripted visits to local elementary school teachers this month.

He walked right into their classrooms with each teacher’s principal to present them each with an award from the Wisconsin Association of Colleges for Teacher Education (WACTE).

The recipients were Westside kindergarten teacher Tori Ament, and Rocky Branch fourth grade teacher Kit Bruesewitz.

On Thursday afternoon, March 13, Solberg and Westside Principal Rita Humbert made their surprise visit to Ament’s classroom.

Solberg presented Ament with an Early Career Educator award to the great excitement of the kindergarteners.

“I was very surprised that I would be honored this way so early in my career. It was an amazing feeling to have so many children and colleagues show up to my classroom to surprise me,” Ament said. “It is an honor to be recognized, but I have to give credit to my family and my "Westside family" for giving me the support and guidance in my first three years of teaching.

Humbert and Ament’s fellow teachers lead the kindergarteners in giving three cheers for Ament, before dismissing the kids for recess.

Solberg said the Early Career Educator award is given to an outstanding educator within the first three years of their career. The recipient is selected based on: Positive impact on schools or communities, innovation in designing learning experiences, and advocacy for students. Teachers can only receive this award once. Humbert nominated Ament for the award.

“Tori has positively impacted our school, our district, and the River Falls community through her exemplary teaching skills, volunteering on various committees, and her love of children,” Humbert wrote in her nomination statement. “Tori is a skilled early educator who exemplifies many attributes of someone who has been in the profession for many years…much like the person she was hired to replace three years ago!”

Ament graduated from UWRF in January 2011 with a major in elementary education and a minor in early childhood education.

Next morning, March 14, Solberg and Rocky Branch principal Chuck Eaton also surprised fourth-grade teacher Bruesewitz with a Pre-Service Educator Mentor Award.

Bruesewitz, who tearfully received the award, said she was shocked to be given the award. She said working with student teachers allows her to help them be well-prepared to teach.

“While providing a place for student teachers to observe and then teach, my students and I benefit from the new ideas and procedures that the pre-service teachers bring to our classroom,” Bruesewitz said. “They're enthusiastic and hard-working. I enjoy the collaboration with them. There are many opportunities to celebrate their teaching and learning!”

Solberg said the award “is presented to an outstanding educator who has demonstrated a sustained pattern of mentoring pre-service educators for at least five years.”

Qualifications include ability to mentor in leadership, classroom management, professional responsibility and dealing with a wide range of issues.

Bruesewitz was nominated by Dr. Florence Monsour, UWRF professor of teacher education.

“Over the years, Kit has served as a cooperating teacher to many of our student teachers and student observers,” Monsour wrote in her nomination letter. “Without professionals like Kit Bruesewitz who open their doors to our students, our programs would not be possible. These meaningful and rich experiences help our students make the connections between theory and practice."

Bruesewitz has taught for 36 years in the River Falls School District, 23 of those at Rocky Branch.

For more on this story, please see the March 20 print edition of the River Falls Journal.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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