Character Counts in Mrs. Hemesath’s Classroom

Lidna 1We live in a world of transparency from production agriculture and our food system to reality television and social media statuses. In perfect correlation, our character and morals transparently follow us.

The 460+ students that Mrs. Hemesath has taught during the past 23 years have learned that character counts. She has spent time in the resource department, offering specialized guidance for those in math, reading and language. Most of her career has been spent in full grade classrooms, however. Mrs. Hemesath is serving her tenth year as a first-grade teacher at John Cline Elementary in Decorah, Iowa.

Mrs. Hemesath believes in treating everyone equally and fairly as demonstrated by one of her most memorable moments in the classroom:

“One year I had the opportunity to teach my nephew, James. I didn’t want other parents or students to realize this, so I never mentioned it to anyone and surprisingly, neither did James until one day in November. I hadn’t told anyone that it was my birthday, but of course James knew. He told the Linda 3class before school while they were lining up. When I opened the door, the children were all excited, wishing me “Happy Birthday!” Overwhelmed with shock, I noticed Grace at the end of the line with a very sad face. I said, “Grace, what is the matter?” She said, “If you are James’ aunt, does that mean that you love him more than you love me?” I said as I hugged her, “Oh Grace, I love you all the same, just in a different way!”

I may be biased about the positive character exhibited by Mrs. Hemesath (otherwise known as mom for me) carries, but it’s hard to deny her intentions are not only clear but influential. She influences so many others by the number of hats she wears: wife, mother, grandma, volunteer, aunt, sister, daughter and teacher.

She claims her students have made more of an impact on her life, but it is easy to see that Mrs. Hemesath the one making a positive impression. The mother of one of her students said, “Mrs. Hemesath truly nurtured Liv’s confidence. We will be forever grateful for all her hard work.”

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Above are four former students that Mrs. Hemesath’s invited to her house to make ornaments and decorate cookies. They still write her letters and give gifts so she decided to invite them over as a thank you.

My modest mom would never take credit for the large amount of personal growth her students experience within her class. She teaches them soft skills by example that often get overlooked. It’s teachers like Mrs. Hemesath who build the foundation for students’ positive attitude, pride, determination and respect for generations to come. We are thankful to have them serving our communities!

Each year on Martin Luther King Day, Mrs. Hemesath does a class activity to help her students understand that it doesn’t matter what we look like, the clothes we wear or the home we come from because we are all the same inside. She lets students crack brown eggs and white eggs. They literally see that even if we don’t look the same on the outside, we are the same on the inside. Then she uses the recipe below to fry the eggs in an electric skillet in front of the class, so they can all enjoy a healthy snack.

You can’t hide the good character of a person I’m fortunate to call my Linda 2mom, Mrs. Hemesath.

“I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe the best does. As a first grade teacher, you know your students may not remember exactly what you teach them, but they will always remember how you made them feel,” says Mrs. Hemesath.


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Martin Luther King, Jr. Scrambled Eggs


  • 1 tablespoon sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives


Mix together the sour cream and eggs in a small bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and mix well.

Melt the butter in a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add the eggs and gently scramble. Remove from the heat and sprinkle with chopped chives and serve.