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NEWTON, Iowa — A math teacher at Berg Middle School wants school to feel like a special and safe place for students each and every day. By doing that, she’s not just focusing on the subject she teaches in the classroom but what her students need outside of school. Nicole Lampe, an educator for more than 20 years, teaches math. It’s a subject she’s learned to be patient with students on. Eighth grade student, Traeh Dean often looked to Lampe for help when he had her for a teacher. “There were some times I was getting pretty angry with it and I was pretty frustrated with it but Mrs. Lampe said ‘hey come after school’ and we worked on a few problems,” he says. The connections she made with students kept them coming back for more. Student Autyme Simmons says, “Most people think that they don`t matter as much but once someone personally helps you, like you feel like you are wanted more.” The two students nominated Lampe for the Golden Apple Award. She says the recognition is a reflection of how much she cares for her students. “Everyday there are teachers who come to work who do extra things for you. I hope you know you’re important. I hope you know you`re special and I hope you know that there are so many possibilities for your future,” she says while speaking the middle school student body. Making sure students know they matter has become the teacher’s mission beyond math. She runs a school clothing closet for students in need. “There are kids who come in everyday and need something. Tennis shoes for PE or socks or t-shirt or even kids looking for a gift for their mom.” Lampe says she wants to make school a place where students want to come and succeed. “There are some kids in some pretty rough circumstance and I hope school can at least be a very safe space and a place where they can see their possibilities.”