HOLMEN, Wisconsin (WXOW) - This month, our Jefferson Award goes to a woman who's made a personal commitment to helping young people in the Holmen area.
Laurie Kessler has touched the lives of many teens at Holmen High School. Such as Marissa Brenegen, who attends a grief group started by Kessler. Brenegen lost her mother three years ago-something she still finds hard to deal with.
"This past Mother's Day when it was really hard to deal with, she had me come in her office and we just talked for 90 minutes, a whole class period," says Brenegen. "She let me tell her all the stories about my mom."
Its stories like that that Laurie's students say makes them feel special and why they can trust her with anything.
Teacher Karen Rooney says the list of things Laurie does for her students is never ending.
Helping out with money, helping out with friend fights, facebook problems-more than anything though, Laurie is a good role model. "There isn't a person that knows Laurie that doesn't respect what she does, makes decisions, helps people in need-all the things that we as adults want to emulate ourselves."
And Laurie has been known to take her work home with her. "I've had a student...Well, I've had lots of students-where mom was an alcholic and when she got drunk she beat up on the kids. And one night she called me from the Kwik Trip and she said "I don't know what to do."
"I said to my husband, I guess we're having a visitor tonight. And that's hard because we can't comprehend that."
Laurie says that's just the tip of the iceberg. There are a lot of kids who are going through tough times at home, which makes the end of the school year even more difficult.
"We've had a few-and the other counselors would agree-we've had a few crisis here the last couple of days and it's all because a lot of these kids are afraid to go home for the summer."
Laurie has been called a second mom, a good friend and even a hero, but in the end, gives credit to her students. And draws strength from them to keep going.