SIOUX CENTER—There’s an art to gratitude, and it’s important to practice it.
For years, Sioux Center School District has made gratitude a part of its work through the Above and Beyond Awards, which are granted during school board meetings.
The idea behind the award, explained school board president Tim Gesink, is to recognize the people who go above and beyond what’s expected for the students or staff within the school district.
The award is open to anybody, whether faculty, staff, student, parent or community member. Award winners are nominated by letter by someone who has seen the nominee go “above and beyond.”
That the nominations frequently come from the winner’s peers is noteworthy, Gesink said.
He said as a school board, “We love the Above and Beyond Award because we get to hear how great these people are. We think we know, but then they surprise us every time how caring the district is for our kids, for our people.”
As recent award winners John Doornenbal and Breanna Kroese say, they didn’t put in the extra effort for the sake of recognition.
Doornenbal, the high school industrial technology teacher, was awarded for his work in and out of the classroom, such as coordinating the construction of a parade float for homecoming and learning a new machining process to help design, make and sell game signs for a prom fundraiser.
It was humbling and an honor to be recognized, Doornenbal said.
As he told the board members when he accepted the award, good schools start with good students, adding that Sioux Center is blessed to have good families, teachers, administrators and school board.
“It was more emotional than I thought it would be,” he later said about receiving the award. “God has truly blessed me to allow me to be part of this great school system and I have the privilege every day to work with so many great kids. I am having the time of my life.”
Kroese, a Kinsey Elementary School first grade teacher, was recognized for her assistance to a first grader and the student’s family.
As school began, the family experienced difficulties with housing and continuing to live in Sioux Center. When the family moved to Orange City, Kroese would pick up the student to go to school every day. She reached out to school administrators, counselors and other community connections to try to find a more permanent solution to the family’s housing troubles.
Because of her work, she was able to find the family a home in Sioux Center that met their needs.
When the student had dental needs, Kroese worked to set up an appointment and worked with school administration to accompany the family so to guide them through the process.
“We do not do the work for the recognition or praise. We do the work because we love the kids in our classrooms and community and want to help them be the best they can be,” Kroese said. “However, to be honored is humbling and reminds me that what I do in my classroom and outside my classroom every day is important.”
Even though positive attention isn’t the reason these and other award winners have worked hard, it’s important to recognize these people’s efforts, Gesink said, because it’s easy to focus on what needs to be improved or what is going wrong but takes effort to see these positive interactions.
“It takes a little more attention to look for those things we’re doing well because we take those things for granted sometimes,” Gesink said. “Here the positivity comes through, and it is beneficial because it often comes from the people you’re working side by side with.”