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Sharla Ries - A champion of education

September 10, 2010
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer

Sharla Ries was at the Omaha airport when someone came up from behind and hugged her. It wasn't a mugger, though.

It was a former student.

Ries, the 2010 Champion in Education at Estherville Lincoln Central, has had many such experiences in which former students have expressed their gratitude for her as a teacher and, perhaps more importantly, as a friend.

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This year’s Champion in Education banquet will be held Tuesday, Sept. 28 at the Estherville Elks Lodge. Social hour is at 6:30 p.m. with the meal at 7.
Tickets are $7 and are available at ELC school offices as well as at Racine’s, Emmet County State Bank, Northstar Bank and Fifth Street Salon and Gifts. Proceeds go to foundation scholarships for ELC graduates.

As health teacher at ELC, Ries has contact with every student who goes through the school. She also has a large contingent of both males and females who take her family and consumer science classes.

Originally from Cedar Rapids, Ries graduated from Wyoming, Iowa High School then the University of Northern Iowa with a degree in family and consumer science and health.

All her teaching experience has been in Emmet County. Her first teaching duties were at Ringsted then she continued at Armstrong-Ringsted after consolidation. Then she taught at Lincoln Central and eventually ELC where she has remained for the past 18 years.

"We always want what's best for students. And I don't see that as every changing," Ries said.

Ries eagerly embraces incorporating mathematics, writing and reading into her curriculum. She also sees learning as an active process in which students own the learning process.

Ries also enjoys the camaraderie with the ELC staff.

"I work with excellent staff," Ries said. "It's not just the teachers." She said administrators, administrative assistants and custodians also help create a great working environment at ELC.

Ries strives to know her charges not merely as students. She wants them to take the concepts they learn in health class and apply them for the rest of their lives.

"I try to look at the whole person," Ries said. "I want them to think about what kind of old person they want to be - a shuffler or an active person. You just try to get them to make a healthy decision."

Ries also thinks students should be talking to their parents.

Ries was frankly surprised when she learned she was this year's honoree.

"I was stunned. I was almost speechless. It's an incredible honor and I can't thank them enough," she said.

Ries said she is deeply honored by the award and wants to thank the foundation for the recognition.

"What an honor. I'm so humbled by it."

"They (foundation) need to be thanked for honoring our educators. That's really awesome. It's pretty incredible that they do that," Ries said.

For Ries, though, it's the privilege of working with young people that's the biggest reward.

"We've got great kids here," Ries said. "I still get nervous on the first day of school."

Ries and her husband, Linn, have three children: Sheena, Landon and Katrina.



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