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2022 Crystal Apple Winner - Megan Hauri from Hackett Elementary School

As part of Teacher Appreciation Week, NBC15 is excited to announce our Crystal Apple winners, including Ms. Megan Hauri from Hackett Elementary in Beloit! The Crystal Apple award recognizes teachers who touch the lives of students in extra special ways. NBC15 received almost 650 nominations from 164 schools in southern Wisconsin.

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - At Hackett Elementary in Beloit, more than one-third of the students are English Language Learners.

Ms. Megan Hauri is not only helping students, but also their families learn English, which positively impacts the school as a whole.

Ms. Hauri has been a teacher for 18 years, and the last 12 have been at Hackett Elementary.

This year she is working with 120 students who are learning English as their second language. They focus on four components when it comes to learning the language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.

“This is the population of students that I love to work with and the challenges are amazing and the excitement of learning the language is so good,” Ms. Hauri said.

As part of her work, Ms. Hauri meets with her students’ families.

“You go into homes and realize that some of them are, I mean, some are very well-off but others maybe are missing some stuff, but you wouldn’t know it because they don’t tell you that,” Ms. Hauri said.

Seeing some families struggle, Ms. Hauri got an idea to start a food pantry, and the students and staff chipped in to help.

“We have some that have come from Honduras and Guatemala with all that stuff happening,” Ms. Hauri said. “If they have food insecurity then they’re not going to learn, they’re not going to respond accurately in the classroom either.”

Ms. Hauri credits the community in how well they both helped run the pantry and use it. Even the kids would come help.

“The kids would help us on their recess. They wanted to help us fill the shelves on the weekends. It’s crazy, to unload a whole semi full of stuff and then have it ready by the end of the day,” she said.

This winter, Ms. Hauri decided to collect winter clothes on top of maintaining the food pantry. As the parent of a kindergartener herself, she saw a new way to help make a difference to the children she teaches.

“It was very heartbreaking for me that these children could go roll in the snow and climb the snow mountain and go out even though they didn’t have the proper gear, that really bothered me. Kids were cold all the time, fingers freezing, heads cold, feet wet and I just couldn’t. We had a limited supply, and tried to do what we could, but I just felt like to say ‘no’ to a child whose fingers were cold isn’t acceptable. It’s not their fault,” Ms. Hauri said.

Due to supply chain issues, she turned to her own neighborhood for help.

“It snowballed into a huge thing,” she said. “We have so much now and we decided to turn it into more of a lending closet. If they want, they can use them, return them, we’ll wash them and then we can use them again for years to come, hopefully to sustain this for years to come.”

But clothes and food weren’t enough. To go above and beyond, Ms. Hauri also began to collect bikes for their holiday bazaar to make the children’s lives a little brighter.

“We take donations right before holiday time and we up our gym as a huge garage sale, but it’s free. Everyone gets tickets at the school and they can come shopping for Christmas presents.”

The project started only a few years ago, and she’s been able to give more than one hundred kids a bike.

“They deserve a childhood that is amazing, right? I just feel like anything we can do to better anyone’s lives, we can,” she said.

Source and Video: NBC15