Carrie Finch of La Harpe Elementary School was awarded the December WGEM Golden Apple award.
Finch is currently in her 25th year teaching.
“I just try to provide a safe place so they can learn and enjoy learning,” Finch said.
“She’s our teacher and she’s the best teacher ever,” preschooler Maddux Froman.
“She is one of the most dedicated teachers you will every meet. She lives and breathes school and these kids,” teaching assistant Sarah Keck said.
Finch’s pre-k classroom at La Harpe Elementary is a non-stop day of learning through painting, playing, and reading.
“She reads books to us,” preschooler Grady Cramer said.
“My mom read to me when I was little and some of my favorite memories are the books she read,” Finch said. “I love to read and I love to tell them stories and I love to watch their faces when they realize what’s happening in the story.”
Finch’s says she wants kids to love school and strives to give them a positive start to their education.
“It’s a growth mindset. Anything that your learning is good, whether or not you are at the top,” Keck said.
“She’s the boss of our class and we don’t go to time out anymore, we think on the thinking chair,” Cramer said.
Outside the classroom, it’s been a challenging year for Finch. Her 19-year-old daughter Maddie was murdered in January.
Finch questioned even returning to the classroom, but received a message from a friend that helped change her mind.
“He said I think you should look at it like this… You’re putting a little piece of Maddie and Josie into every kid in La Harpe because you are seeing them first,” Finch said.
Finch’s daughter, Josie, is currently a Culver-Stockton College student, majoring in legal studies.
Finch now teaches as she has for decades, but with a new message of kindness.
“Somebody’s kid is always going to be smarter than yours, more athletic, better clothes, more education, but you can teach your child to be the kindest,” Finch said.