Second Grade at General Beadle Elementary School, Rapid City
General Beadle gained an A+ teacher when they added Jonni Hertel to their staff four years ago.
As a mother of four children, Jonni has been living up to her given name – Wakan Yeja Tewi Cahala Winyan (Woman Who Loves Children). At the start of her career, she began a daycare before attending Oglala Lakota College, graduating in 2012. From there, she continued her education at Southwest Minnesota State University, receiving her Masters Degree last year.
“Ms. Hertel has been a role model, leader, and inspiration to my children,” said Shane Montgomery, a parent to one of Jonni’s students. “She not only teaches our children, but loves and mentors them.”
Each day in Ms. Hertel’s class, students get to participate in Tiospaye Time – or Family Time – where students sit in a circle and talk about whatever they want to put out there.
“I teach my kiddos that it’s ok to ‘feel’,” said Jonni. “I believe in teaching the whole child, and that goes beyond the text book – giving them strategies to navigate through life beyond the classroom.”
She is her students’ support system as they go through life in second grade – becoming the “big kids” they so eagerly want to be.
“It’s all about giving back,” said Jonni. “It’s about stepping up and being able to have a connection so they allow you into their journey – if only for a moment.”