Crystal Apple winner: Stephanie Tresemer
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s a favorite quote of Stephanie Tresemer. She challenges her Brodhead middle school students and staff to “be the change” each day.
A binder full of nominations, 80 total, described the difference she has made in the school’s and community’s lives for the past three decades.
“Some years ago we re-tweaked our student council,” says Tresemer. “I took it over and said, if you would like to be on, fill out an application that says here's where I’ve led, and here's what I want to do to make a difference.”
She started a “Team of Outstanding Leaders” or TOOL Team, and almost half of the student body is involved. The group meets once a week to raise funds, team build, and plan larger volunteer events, such as their annual Holiday Senior Citizen Luncheon.
“They're all struggling with their purpose and TOOL gave them a space and a place to take chances and to lead a committee and to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” says Tresemer. “I tell them every day, it's not about you.”
She also coordinates community service days twice a year.
This year has brought its own challenges with the coronavirus pandemic and school being closed in mid-March. Tresemer organized a surprise car parade at the end of the month to celebrate a student who made it to the state geography bee, which was canceled due to the “Safer at Home” order.
“You go a lot farther with finding that one special thing to honor individuals because then you're celebrating their individuality and their contribution piece at a time,” says Tresemer.
Beth Reisterer and her husband, Jason, organized the nominations and created a video submission.
“I'm amazed at what she does for our school and our community,” says Jason. “The importance of giving back to others and the power that has, that has made me a better teacher."
“She's taught me to pay it forward and go outside my comfort zone, and without her I don't think I'd be part of TOOL or forensics, and she's just taught everybody to be a better person,” says a student in the video.
“Her big thing is, be the good, choose kind, be the difference,” says Beth. “I look at people and say, my goal in life is to be as amazing and awesome as Stephanie Tresemer.”
Tresemer’s advice to parents right now is to reprioritize and build, rekindle, and nurture your relationships with your children.