MACHESNEY PARK (WREX) — Kristine Mollway is a Rockford native who has always felt connected to the Harlem School District.
"I went through the Harlem Schools and my kids went through the Harlem Schools," Mollway said.
"I love the district. I love the staff. I've just had a great experience as a parent and as an employee."
Ms. Mollway has worked with the district for the last 20 years, currently a para educator at Machesney Elementary School.
She works in a 6th grade class at the school, helping kids stay on task with what they need to get done every day.
"It's just about getting to know them. Spending time with them and you can see where their needs are. We are all very caring and look for what we need to do to help children succeed," Mollway said.
The personal attention Ms. Mollway gives students is appreciated by Amanda Nicholls, the lead teacher of the classroom.
She enjoys having someone else by her side to make sure students are staying focused.
"Having her in the classroom, I feel like they are more productive," Nicholls said.
"They know they need to get their job done because not only do they have me watching them, they also have Ms. Mollway watching them."
The kids move around to other classes, such as music, throughout the day.
So does Ms. Mollway.
She follows her kids during the day to watch over them and help them if they need it.
Her peers commend for she is able to stay close to them while still giving them space.
"She helps, but she doesn't give too much. She let's them have that productive struggle," Nicholls said.
Ms. Mollway's teaching career didn't begin with Machesney or the Harlem School District.
She started at a daycare center years ago and then stayed home to do home daycare before coming to the school district as her kids started there.
"I started out as an individual para at Parker Center for years working with children with autism and then just transferring to buildings with students," Mollway said.
When Ms. Mollway found she was the latest winner of Teacher of the Week, she had one word to describe it.
"I love my job. I love what I do. I love seeing the kids progress and making relationships with them."
Those relationships go a long way when the kids due experience growth in school, no matter how big of a leap.
"Even little successes turn into bigger successes and when that happens, they then can grow and it really makes your day."