Michele Coe knew as a young Paxton resident she wanted to pursue a career that helped people, and she found the perfect job for that outlet. As one parent put it, the third-grade teacher at Clara Peterson Elementary School “goes out of her way to help children in ways that don’t necessarily fall into her job description.”
I find my work important because ... there is no one more important than kids. I think all children are deserving of a quality education. I enjoy watching kids grow educationally, emotionally and socially.
I became a teacher because ... I have always enjoyed kids. I started babysitting at a young age and was always around kids. I worked as a lifeguard for many years and enjoyed teaching kids to swim. I knew in grade school that I wanted to help kids learn and knew that someday I would teach. I love to watch them grow as a student. Living in a small school district, I love the fact that I can watch the kids mature into young adults. Since I’ve been teaching for over 30 years, I’m now having students who are children of former students. I really enjoy that and the kids always want to know how their parents were in school.
My favorite/most unique lesson that I teach is ... This isn’t really one lesson, but a whole day. I have put together a Career on Wheels event for the past 19 years. I contact as many people as I can to come to school with their work vehicle and talk to the kids about their career. This is for all of the third- to fifth-grade students, and we spend the afternoon outside learning. I rotate the presenters so if the student is here all three years, they do not see any of the same careers. I’ve had a monster truck, helicopter, firetruck, police, limo, semi driver, conservation, dog trainer and UI vet, just to name a few. It is a great day and the kids just love it.
My most fulfilling moments on the job are ... when I run into former students and they talk to me about all the fun they had while I was their teacher. They remember details about that school year that I don’t even remember.
Something else I’m passionate about is ... I love to cook and bake, especially my Texas sheet cake. I am close to retirement and looking forward to traveling.
My favorite teacher and subject to study was ... My favorite teacher was my third-grade teacher, Mrs. Abrahamson, at Westlawn School in Paxton. I loved math, and she pushed me to do my best. I also loved the fact that I was able to take my class to the nursing home one Christmas and she happened to be there. She was 102 and she actually remembered who I was.
If I weren’t a teacher, I would be ... a nurse. I love helping people and really learned a lot while taking care of my son as he fought cancer.