The Compass: Official Newspaper of the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay
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March 23, 2001 Issue
Local News

De Pere teacher wins Kohl Award

Karolyn Efferson also serves as Notre Dame campus minister

By Jeff Kurowski
Compass Assistant Editor

Karolyn Efferson, religion teacher and campus minister at Notre Dame Middle School, De Pere, challenges students to look beyond the classroom walls to make a difference in the world around them.

She encourages community involvement by facilitating student volunteer hours at Paul's Pantry, St. Vincent de Paul and Nicolet School, visits to the McCormick Home and Cottonwood Center, and item and monetary donation collections for earthquake victims in El Salvador.

"I want them to realize how important it is to help others," said Efferson. "Jesus calls us to action."

Efferson's positive influence on her students was recognized through her selection as a 2001 Kohl Teacher Fellowship recipient. Each year 100 teachers from Wisconsin receive this prestigious award and $1,000.

"Being recognized in religion for an honor that is open to the public sector is very meaningful," Efferson said. "It recognizes that faith is important and is positive in education."

"Karolyn brings a lot of vitality and energy to her teaching," said Bill Matchefts, principal at Notre Dame, who nominated Efferson for the honor. "She always has wonderful ideas which she shares with the faculty and the students. The entire school is very proud of her."

Among Efferson's ideas are student-led conferences. Students set their own goals and teachers monitor their progress in achieving the goals.

"The students prepare the materials for their parent-teacher conference," explained Efferson. "It puts the responsibility of education in the kids' hands."

Efferson also helped develop Notre Dame's Peer Mediation program, where students solve conflicts.

"When a quarrel exists, the students resolve it," she explained. "There are 18 students trained on how to facilitate a conflict situation. They decide what to do to solve the problem. It's another way of giving them responsibility."

Efferson credits the students for her honor from the Kohl Foundation.

"When I filled out the forms for the award, I asked them what I should write," she said. "I just love the kids and their excitement to learn. They have grown so much in the area of outreach to others. They are putting their faith in action."

"It's not always easy," she continued. "When they visit Cottonwood, they see people who are physically and mentally handicapped. It's tough, but it makes them grateful for the gifts in their lives. When they volunteer at Paul's Pantry, many students are surprised that there are people lined up for food. They appreciate the warm meal they have waiting for them at home. It's a valuable learning experience."

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