Educating students isn’t always just a classroom thing. Sometimes it’s the people outside the classroom who play as important a role as the teachers in them.
John Lero, the building supervisor at Madison Elementary School in Blaine, is a prime example. His colleagues at the school talk about his willingness to “go the extra mile.” He’s often on a knee, talking to students on their level, looking them in the eye, making sure they have his undivided attention.
It’s the extra miles coupled with his desire to build one-on-one connections with students that earned Lero one of the Anoka-Hennepin School District’s 2012-2013 Above & Beyond Awards.
Lero, who has spent 21 years with Anoka-Hennepin schools, is one of 10 recipients of the annual award that recognizes teachers, administrative assistants, cooks, custodians and other employees who work extra-hard to make sure students are successful.
“I believe part of my role at Madison is to understand each and every child that comes through our doors,” Lero said.
His efforts are so beloved in the school that on April 24 Madison had a celebration dubbed “Mr. Lero is Our Hero Day.” Staff wore custom T-shirts adorned with “Mr. Lero is our Hero,” and the day began with students lining the hallways to offer him applause and congratulations for his Above & Beyond Award.
While his goal is to connect with every student, Lero makes a special point to make sure those with special needs get the attention they deserve “so they can feel special and important,” he said.
Brenda Murphy-Sperbeck, one of Madison’s ESL teachers, nominated Lero. She said he’s always supporting student learning and student well-being.
“He has been observed on many occasions helping our students get ready for learning when they have had a hard morning or when they are upset about something,” Murphy-Sperbeck said. “Students look up to him for his positive leadership.”
There’s no better example of Lero’s dedication than an unofficial program he runs at the school with kids who have run afoul of school rules. He works with the students on school service projects around Madison to help make amends.
Lero says working with them has helped them learn the value of doing their best.
“There’s never a dull moment,” Lero said. “You can go from one extreme to the next and have the kids smile at you and say ‘hi.’”