Shirland School teacher still finds joy in classroom after 40 ye - – Rockford’s News Leader

Shirland School teacher still finds joy in classroom after 40 years


It doesn't take much to make Mrs. Carol Pankratz smile.

"A little note that's slid across my desk that says I love you Mrs. Pankratz or you're the best teacher," says Shirland School teacher Mrs. Carol Pankratz. "Over the years, those things have meant the most to me. And those are the things that I kept."

She's been receiving those since 1974, the first year she taught at Shirland School. Now nearly four decades later, she's getting more than just a slip of paper.

"She just touched my heart, the way she was so nurturing with each and every student," says Ann Hedman, a Shirland parent. "It didn't make a difference who they were or if they had any struggles. She was there for everybody and she just touched my heart all the way along with each and every one of my boys. She has just been special."

Ann Hedman knows how special Mrs. Pankratz is, after trusting her with her seven sons. She thought it was only fitting to honor her with our Teacher of the Week award.

Her nurturing spirit is what sets her apart, giving every child a chance to be included. No one in Mrs. Pankratz class is ever left out.

"I make a concerted effort that every single day I call on every single on of my children to participate, in some way," Pankratz says. "It's going up to the board or giving an answer or interacting with me and the rest of the class, in some way."

I took a look back at the history of Shirland. The 1987 year book, Pankratz hasn't aged a bit, maybe it's because her students aren't just students. They're family. Something Pankratz says is irreplaceable.

"I don't have any grandchildren of my own yet, so in a sense they're all my little kids," she says.

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