Golden Apple Award Winner: School is her 'happy place'

Published: Feb. 26, 2020 at 12:30 PM CST
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Helping students grow as readers makes Jill Sievers happy. For 17 years, she's been teaching Reading Recovery at Beattie Elementary School in Lincoln.

We presented Mrs. Sievers with the Golden Apple Award on Monday. She seemed surprised. You see, Mrs. Sievers is a team player. But a teacher who gives her heart and soul to the profession deserves recognition.

"The climate, the culture, the families, the teachers here, pretty top-notch," Sievers said. "It's humbling that I would get this award because I think so many people here deserve it far more than I do."

Mrs. Sievers has been a teacher since 1984, sharing her skills at Eastridge, Hartley and Humann in Lincoln. She's been a Reading Recovery teacher for 17 years at Beattie Elementary. She considers it the best job in the district.

"It's the one-on-one; it's getting to build relationships with kids," Sievers said. "It's getting them and to just know that they can do it. They are readers, and are building that confidence."

The Beatty family nominated Mrs. Sievers for the Golden Apple Award.

"She's really playful, and she is always happy," said Howie Beatty.

And she knows how to make learning fun. For example, at the end of a reading session, Howie said they'd play "basketball."

"We'd crumple little pieces of paper up and then shoot it into the trash can," Howie said. "We then marked tallies and whoever got to 20 tallies would win the game and they got a cookie I think."

Teaching is not just a job for Mrs. Sievers. Everyday, she enters the building and makes a positive impact on students and staff. And Principal Sean Bailey said she really takes ownership making sure her students succeed.

"The great teachers own their students' progress, and you can tell Jill really does own it," Bailey said. "She feels so good inside when the kids are able to show progress, and you can tell that she's really motivated by that, and the great ones are."

For 30 minutes a day, for 20 weeks, Mrs. Sievers works one-on-one with a student to get them up on grade level. She says the work has been very successful at Beattie.

"There are those hard times, and you just know that this the best they've got," Sievers said. "And I'm going to make sure I'm the best part of their day. I've even got a note on the window that says 'make someone say the best part of their day was you.'"

And Howie Beatty agrees.

"It's because of her, that I've gotten a lot better, Beatty said."


to nominate a teacher for the Golden Apple Award, sponsored by Doane University College of Education.