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DES MOINES, Iowa — In Iowa, there are more than 36,000 educators. Tristana Tigges began her career as a teacher six years ago but it took some persuading from her family.

“She needed a little nudge here and there to help get her down the right road,” says Tigges father Dale.

Dale says he knew deep down that his daughter would be a great teacher. After all he says she has the characteristics of her late mother.

“She’s patient, understanding, gentle and kids are drawn to her,” he says choking back tears.

When Dale got the phone call that Tigges would be awarded the Golden Apple award, he dropped what he was doing to make the nearly three-hour drive from Sioux City to Jefferson Elementary School.

“I was able to rearrange some things on my schedule and wouldn’t miss the opportunity to see this,”he says.

The opportunity would allow him to see his daughter teach for the first time and a chance for him to witness that nudge that has come full circle.

“Having that nudge from my dad kind of helped me learn how to nudge kids the right way and how to push forward and teach them that they can do things, Tigges smiles.

The nudge comes in many different forms, depending on the student. Tigges embraces the challenges of learning how each one of her students succeed.

“I love kids. I love watching them grow academically, socially, emotionally. From where they start to where they end up is really cool,” she says.

The biggest reward in watching her students grow, watching them become independent.

“Teaching them they can do it themselves without doing everything for them I think is a big thing I’ve learned through teaching.”

Tigges was awarded the Golden Apple on October 3rd. She teaches kindergarten at Jefferson Elementary.