SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin – This was a match made in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
When Ann (Harteau) Bitter, a 1993 Lakeland University graduate and senior Kohler Elementary School teacher, received an email regarding hosting a student teacher from Lakeland in the fourth term of the school year. school year, she asked where this student attended high school.
“I can’t say no to Lakeland” said Amer.
The story has improved.
After agreeing to take on the student teacher – Abby Nylund, senior at Lakeland University – the name sounded familiar. So Bitter did a web search and found out that Nylund was playing basketball in Lakeland and was from UP, just like her.
Bitter grew up in Felch Township and graduated in 1988 from North Dickinson County High School.
Nylund grew up 33 miles away in Crystal Falls and graduated in 2017 from rival North Dickinson County High School, Forest Park, in 2017.
“Everyone in Lakeland knew who she was” Nylund said. “They were like, ‘Oh Ann? She is great!’ Then I heard she was in the Track and Field Hall of Fame.
These Yoopers turned Muskies quickly got to know each other as they compared their homecoming grades. “Hey, do you know this person? Do you ever go here? The answer was often yes.
Shortly after Nylund joined the fifth grade class, Bitter began a writing unit. “I tell a lot of stories, including stories about where I grew up, and I use them to teach them how to write stories” said Amer. “It was nice to have another person in the room who had context for my stories.”
Nylund added, “She tells these stories to the students and I could imagine it all. She was telling jokes inside and I got them all.
For Bitter, having Nylund in his classroom was a way to revive and keep a Lakeland tradition alive. One of Bitter’s mentors was Duane “Mannish” DeMez, a 1979 Lakeland graduate who received his Masters of Education in 1986, went on to become a longtime Kohler teacher. She married shortly after graduating from Lakeland, enjoyed the area, and quickly landed a teaching job that also allowed her to coach basketball.
“There was no reason for me to beat the bushes at home”, Amer said “Kohler is perfect for me. When I interviewed here I remember telling them I’m a small town person and K-12 school is what I want because that’s where I come from in UP.
Nylund arrived in Bitter’s classroom after spending the first part of her teaching experience in Sheboygan Falls with 4-year-old kindergarten students.
“I had no idea how nervous she would be about this transition”, said Amer. “She went from observing for a week to teaching math. It’s nice to be able to be yourself with older students, but you have to get used to it being the norm.
“She’s made a lot of progress. She very quickly got to know the students. In addition, I had a very friendly, social and kind group.
Nylund admitted she was nervous at first because she had never experienced the older ages in elementary school, but quickly felt comfortable. “I really like it,” Nylund said. “It opened my eyes to teaching older children. “
The teaching was done in person, although a few students have switched to virtual learning due to COVID-19 situations, which has given Nylund valuable additional learning experiences.
When asked what Bitter had done to help her, Nylund responded with a smile: “Literally everything. I just watch Ann, the way she talks to the kids, what she says to them… every little gesture is so helpful.
In Nylund, Bitter found not only a soul mate, but also a young teacher hungry for feedback.
“When you learn classroom management and lesson management, Abby is almost immediately ready to try new strategies or make a change.” said Amer. “This ability to receive advice and guidance and to be so flexible will push her throughout her career.”
In typical small town fashion, Bitter’s help wasn’t limited to the classroom. Nylund posted on social media that she was looking for elementary-level books for her future classroom. Bitter shared his request, which led to a shipment of books from a student’s parent and a large donation from the Kohler Library.
Bitter asked a few people from Felch to contact her to ask if she had a teacher named Abby in her class because they knew Abby’s mother, Karen Nylund. Of course, the word has spread to us, because, after all, it is a small town.
Submitted by Lakeland University, Plymouth, Wisconsin.