Third grade teacher Kris Hodapp moved from Madelia to New Ulm, after accepting her first teaching job. "I have to be honest, it was a job. A job that I took," said Hodapp.

A job that would turn into a lifetime career 38 years later. "It became our life, it was the best decision we made for our family."

Now, during her final year of teaching, her passion isn't going unnoticed, after student Maddy Wellmann nominated her for the Golden Apple Award. "Because it was her last year and we're going to miss her," Wellmann explained.

After receiving the award, Hodapp said, "I was very surprised, then you sort of second guess, well, why me? Because in our school system we all work together."

It's that humility that makes Mrs. Hodapp such an integral part of the New Ulm Area Catholic School system. Partner Third Grade Teacher Kristin Hillesheim explained, "She has been a mentor to not only the kids but other teachers along the way. My first year teaching here I was a co–teacher with her and she taught me a lot about being a teacher."

This includes taking the time to get to know each and every child. "Before you kind of just lump all of the kids together, but after you start teaching you realize that each one is an individual and they have individual talents and needs. That is what you try to do, foster those talents," said Hodapp.

But what might be the real recipe behind her success... "Sometimes her mom bakes cookies for us," said Wellmann.

Hodapp recalls, "I had a dad come up to me and say, you know what, my older son had you and loved your mom's cinnamon rolls and now my younger son is sad he doesn't get your mom's cinnamon rolls because of the Heart Healthy Program. So, do you think your mom could meet my son out in the alley and give us the cinnamon rolls then? I thought that was really cute."

At the end of this school year, Mrs. Hodapp will retire... a bittersweet moment for both her and her students. But the lesson's she's taught will continue to leave an impact.

"I wish we could go to school, even in summer," said student Sophia Netzke.

If you would like to nominate someone for a Golden Apple Award, click on the Golden Apple icon.

--KEYC News 12.