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
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
"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 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
"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."