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Students chip in to surprise Teacher of the Week at recess

After learning Spanish as a second language, now Leighann Rheeder is helping several West Michigan students learn, too.

ZEELAND, Mich. — After learning Spanish as a second language, now she’s helping several West Michigan students learn, too. It’s just one reason Leighann Rheeder was chosen as our next Teacher of the Week—and her enthusiastic students at Lincoln Ementary School were thrilled to help us out with the surprise.

Rheeder said she’s grateful for the honor, saying, “My children are just the sweetest, too. We have so much fun and I feel so honored, so honored to receive this.”

She got her start with the young ones at the pool.

“I got into teaching because I started teaching swim lessons when I was 16 and I was like, wow, how much fun is this to spend with these little people,” said Rheeder.

Plus, it runs in the family.

“My father was a teacher. He taught in Grand Rapids Public Schools for many years.”

Jeff Roon is the Lincoln Elementary School principal and said, “This is just an exciting thing for Señora Rheeder here at Lincoln, just to be able to be recognized for the great things that she’s doing, to see the joy and the excitement that she brings to her classroom every day for the kids and the excitement that they have.”

Rheeder’s been teaching for the last seven years, the same subject, all with Lincoln Elementary.

“One of my favorite things about teaching Spanish is watching them grow and learning that it’s okay to make mistakes, it’s okay to be confused, right? That’s all part of learning. You have to have those moments to be able to learn,” said Rheeder.

A lesson she says automatically comes with learning a new language.

“Having Spanish as my second language, I think I’m also an example to students that it’s hard for me too sometimes and we all are learning together and it’s important to persevere and keep trying, right?”

Principal Roon believes “education is a calling, and it’s something that people feel called to and it’s just a gift to have people who care about our kids every single day.”

While 13 ON YOUR SIDE is saying “thanks” to Mrs. Rheeder, she’s also thankful!

“Thank you to everybody who works in schools because you make a difference in children's lives,” she said.

If you have someone you’d like to nominate as our next Teacher of the Week, just text “teacher” to 616-559-1310.

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