GLIDDEN, Iowa — One educator says becoming a teacher is the best decision she ever made, and that decision has impacted many at Glidden-Ralston Schools.

Barb Rath teaches fifth and sixth-grade science and social studies.

“I love to learn, and I love interacting with the kids, and I love seeing the lightbulbs go off when they get it,” Rath said. “And I love seeing them come to school and be excited about things and wanting to be here and everything.”

But Mrs. Rath knows there are things that happen outside of her classroom that affect her students, which makes her job way more than the subjects she teaches.

“There’d be days where I’d come to school and not really participate and she’d pick me up and make me actually work,” Landin Pegg, a 7th grade student, said. 

“She finds ways to make it hands-on and engaging for them and the kids love it,” Kim Flanagan, an instructional coach, said. “And like Landin said, he was having struggles and she finds ways to pull them into the classroom and have them be successful students in her room.”

“You can’t be a, to me, be an effective teacher if you don’t show them that you love and that you care about them,” Rath said.

And that care that resulted in Mrs. Rath being awarded the Golden Apple. 

You can tell teaching means a lot to Mrs. Rath. It’s a job she’s wanted to do her whole life but didn’t pursue until life was put into perspective when her daughter was diagnosed with leukemia.

“So, I was sitting in the hospital with her for about six weeks and just running through your life. You know that old cliche when something bad happens you really rethink, reevaluate your life. It’s true,” Rath reflected. “While I was in the hospital with my daughter, I started thinking I’m not happy where I’m at. Why don’t I go back to school? I always thought I would go back to be a teacher.”

And so, she did. At 46 years old, Mrs. Rath went back to school to become a teacher. She graduated in 2015 and went on to teach at Ar-We-Va before coming back to Glidden-Ralston in 2019. A full circle moment for Rath to teach where she was once a student. 

“This is home to me, and it means everything to me,” Rath said. “And I want my kids to have the experience that I had going here so I try to do that with them. I want them to love being a Wildcat as much as I do.”

Mrs. Rath has no plans to retire anytime soon. However, when she does, she already told her family she plans to be a substitute teacher at Glidden-Ralston.

You can watch the full interview with Mrs. Rath below:

Check out the previous winners of the Golden Apple Award here.