Top Teacher: Dana Tonak - WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports

Top Teacher: Dana Tonak

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Seventh grade students, parents and staff at Hesse Elementary School have the Army to thank for bringing Dana Tonak from Michigan.

She came about four years ago with her fiance, a 3rd ID officer, and said she has found her home at Hesse.

Tonak has a knack for reaching students on their level.

"You really need to get to know your students and the only way to do that is by talking to them," she said.

At Hesse, where standards are high, teachers dedicated this teacher. They all said she stands out.

"Any role that she serves in, she is a dynamic teacher. She is energetic. She brings energy to the classroom," fellow teacher Michelle Barrett said.

But that was not all, she's more than just a teacher.

"Last year I coached three sports and absolutely loved it. I had no free time, but it was definitely worth it. I was able to see the leadership of my students in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom and that is where it's rewarding...truly rewarding," Tonak said.

"She just has a wonderful way with students to help build their knowledge academically, but also with their values," Barrett said.

Tonak said as much as a challenge it can be, she like helps creating the person her students are going to be.

"This is a challenging age - it can be," she said. "Just because typically academics is not top of the priority list, so with this group you really have to engage them and really kind of create the person they're going to be. Help them make those decisions of what they want to encompass in themselves...and you hope that they will kind of spread that throughout their peers and take those values from the classroom and use them outside the classroom, and for the rest of their life. You wanna create that lifelong learner."

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