ANKENY, Iowa — Almost 12,800 students are enrolled in the Ankeny School District. A long-time middle school teacher at the district has a way of making each one of her students stand out from the crowd.

Amy Akers helps guide a small number of students through her extended learning program and various after-school clubs at Southview Middle School. For Akers, teaching is all about making an intentional impact.

“That’s what you want,” smiles Akers. “I want to expose you to different opportunities to help you figure out more about yourself and what you want to do.”

Her current students say they feel valued in her class.

“With some teachers, I feel like I’m just kind of in the group. That I’m just there to learn but with Mrs. Akers, I truly feel like I have an adult that wants to know me and how I am on a daily basis,” says Presley Drew, a ninth-grade student at Southview Middle School. “That means a lot to me and a lot of her other students as well.”

A former student of Akers says she sets students up for success.

“Being able to have that relationship with teachers like Mrs. Akers has really allowed me to step out of my comfort zone,” says Ankeny senior, Emily Byrnes. ” I’m developing great life skills that I know are going to serve me well in the future.”

The teacher who has helped students excel and find their place in a growing school district for 25 years says the recognition is a reminder of her efforts not going unnoticed.

“Teachers have tried a lot of things from their toolbox. We’ve learned about stretching ourselves and I want you to know that teachers and trying and putting in a lot of time and hard work to make things better for students.”

Watch the extended interview with Amy Akers below:

You can take a look at all the other winners of the Golden Apple Award here.