SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – Throughout the school year, teachers make sure their students learn everything they need to know. To show appreciation for that work, the Sioux Falls School District recently announced the Teacher of the Year.

Ashley Kracke is a 5th-grade teacher at Pettigrew Elementary.

Since she was young, she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.

“I spent hours playing school with my brother or forcing my brother to play school with me, and I knew that I loved my teachers, I grew up in Toronto, South Dakota and I would stay after school and help my teachers,” 5th-grade teacher, Teacher of the Year, Ashley Kracke said.

She started her teaching career after she graduated from Augustana in 2005. She started teaching 5th grade here in 2009.

“I’ve always loved 5th grade, it’s such a huge transition year, being the big dogs of the elementary and then transitioning into middle school, making sure they are prepared for their next step in life,” Kracke said.

Her students appreciate the hard work and extra effort she makes in the classroom.

“She is just one of the most fairest and best teachers I’ve ever had and it is amazing to come here every day just to see her and have fun learning,” 5th grader, Kellen Hunhoff said.

“I like that she’s really caring and she is very good at helping you, so if you need help with something, she’s always there to help you,” 5th grader, Ella Karaca said.

Kracke was nominated for the award by her 5th-grade team. As for the future, she says she can’t imagine doing anything else and plans to continue teaching 5th graders.

“I did not expect this, I am no different than any other teachers in the district, I’m honored to be representing teachers that have the common goal of just doing what’s best for kids,” Kracke said.

“I find myself lucky to have a really good teacher and a wonderful class,” Karaca said.

This year there were 69 nominees for Teacher of the Year.