Teachers make house calls to show appreciation for student achievement

DE SOTO, Mo. - Some Jefferson County school kids went to bed happy Thursday night after more than a dozen teachers from Athena Elementary School spent hours after school to recognize them for their classroom achievements.

The teachers donned party hats and favors hopped aboard two school buses visiting 28 homes, presenting all 28 of their 'students of the month' with placards that read "a student with character lives here."

The educators said that it's one more approach to bring positivity into a child's life. The school has been practicing the new method for five months, rewarding the students every month.

"It's based on a character word like 'perseverance,' 'responsibility,' so when they show those attributes throughout the month the teacher notices it and they select that student and then we go and celebrate at their house," said school principal, Ron Farrow.

The celebratory visit was a pure surprise for the young learners. Some of them were a little shy but others were letting it be known that they deserve the recognition.

"Working hard in the classroom and not giving up," said Mason Sitzes, a third-grade student.

Their teachers couldn't help but take in the moment of seeing the joy on their students' faces, often referring to them as "their" children.

"These are all of our kids whether you are in De Soto or St. Louis or even in a different state, these are our kids, they are our future," said kindergarten teacher Kelli Hardin.

"We're telling them face-to-face just how awesome they are doing," said sixth-grade teacher, MaryAnn Vaughn, "and it doesn't have to be all on Twitter or in a note going home but actually showing up and say, 'Hey you're worth it.'"

For some very proud parents, it's a peace of mind knowing that the educators have and always will go above and beyond for their child's success.

"It's amazing that they would take time away to do that to show the kids that they care and show us that they care about the students and that they would go the extra mile to do that," said Matt Kopecky, Sitzes' step-father.

Farrow said that at the end of each month, students who were recognized with the placards will be receiving a certificate and recognition during their school assembly.