Oshkosh elementary school counselor is a Wisconsin Teacher of the Year

OSHKOSH – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, shuttering schools across the state, Kaelee Heideman started to miss the students at her school.

Stuck at home, Heideman, a counselor at Carl Traeger Elementary School, thought back to her time as a camp counselor, when she learned to appreciate a handwritten letter at the end of the summer.

So she grabbed a pen and began to write to every student in the school — by her guess, about 500 letters.

Heideman had put her home address on the letters, with the hope that maybe a few students would write back. Instead, she got more than 50 letters.

The kids’ letters were funny and sweet and included anything and everything imaginable. Some told her they were playing basketball. Others were covered in stickers. One was just a coloring book page. Another was a drawing of Cookie Monster. On one of her favorites, the student wrote, “Have a great quarantine,” instead of “Sincerely.”

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