Sue Peake was nominated by parent of a student, Shireen Feldt.
Five years ago, Feldt and her two sons moved to Iowa from Minneapolis following a devastating divorce that left them homeless for over a year. Through the beauty of Facebook, Feldt reconnected and remarried her high school sweetheart. He encouraged them to move to the country, predicting they would love the peace and quiet.
"While the move had a positive impact on my children, the divorce still posed emotional challenges for my boys, which came through in deteriorating grades and performance at school," Feldt said. "And then, like an angel, along comes Mrs. Peake."
At first, Feldt frequently heard her youngest son talk about how wonderful Mrs. Peake was. She had the opportunity to meet each of his teachers and didn't know how Mrs. Peake fit into his school day. Looking her up on the school website, she found out that Mrs. Peake was a TAG Teacher (Talented and Gifted Teacher). Her son continued to talk about the things he would do while in Mrs. Peake's class room.
"It just didn't make sense. While I knew my son was capable of being "Talented and Gifted", his report cards did not reflect that at all," Feldt said.
During a parent teacher conference, Mrs. Peake showed Feldt her son's scores on the statewide aptitude test. He scored higher than the school and state average for his grade level. The results showed that he was capable of being a much better student than he was proving to be in his classes.
"You see, Mrs. Peake knew all along and sensed the silent crying that Grant had been displaying at school," Feldt said. "She was working her magic by wrapping her arms around my child in the greatest way a teacher can; she was giving him a second chance. She told all of his teachers that if he was acting out in class, not performing, or if he seemed sad, to send him to her classroom. And they did."
Mrs. Peake worked with Grant to bring out the leader she saw in him, and she taught him skills that aren't necessarily taught in school. Mrs. Peake became Grant's biggest cheerleader and selected him to be a coach for a 5th grade TAG project. The project included a state-wide competition where students built rollercoasters out of nothing but tape and construction paper.
"I was excited to have the wonderful opportunity to learn more about Mrs. Peake, as what I already knew was something one cannot put into words," Feldt said. "She is more than a teacher - she is an angel! Because the teachers and chaperones could not be near the children during the 3-hour competition, Mrs. Peake and I had a lot of time to get to know one another, and what I learned left me speechless."
Decades ago, Mrs. Peake and her husband moved to rural Iowa from a large city in Michigan, when her husband received a pastoral calling at a small church in a small town. Despite being apprehensive, they moved and raised their three boys in the small town of 700.
"She shared with me her love and joy she has for all of the children at our small school," Feldt said. "She shared stories of how she gets joy and peace from helping those children in need."
Mrs. Peake puts her feelers out for those kids who are in need of care, a helping hand, support, food, clothes, or tutoring. She has also provided students with hygiene products, school supplies, food, and clothing when they were in desperate need.
Mrs. Peake is always willing to lend a helping hand or care for someone in need. When her son was younger, he had a friend who always wanted to sleep over. At first, she thought nothing of it, but months went by and those nightly sleepovers turned into weeks, and months. Mrs. Peake learned that that boy came from a very broken family; one that did not provide for him. The boy yearned for the love he felt when at their home. Mrs. Peake and her family adopted the boy and put him through school and college. Today, he is married with children of his own.
"Mrs. Peake is an angel; there is no other way to describe her," Feldt said. "She makes a huge difference in the lives of others. She positively adds to the development of our school's atmosphere and is a leader within our school by providing an example to teachers and students about how to care and nurture all students. Her record of excellence at our school is unsurpassed. She holds the highest of moral and ethical standards."
Mrs. Peake always looks for and senses those in need, and deep in her heart, she wants to help them. If that help means buying them winter boots and setting them on their doorstep anonymously, that is what she does. She has worked on setting up a "community closet" in her school's basement where children can go at their leisure and take clothes, shoes, hats, gloves, or anything they need.
"I feel blessed to have met Mrs. Peake," Feldt said. "She has touched my life and my son's life like no other. Her love and unselfish giving is an example of which we all should live. When I saw the LifeChanger program on the Today Show, I immediately thought of Mrs. Peake. If anyone deserves this recognition, it's her. She deserves to be recognized for the lives she has touched and the lives she has changed. She does it out of the love she has in her heart for those around her. She puts the lives of others above her own. She deserves to be shown how much she is appreciated and loved in a special way."