Claire Anderson, contributing writer
This fall, the Book Table began “Making a Difference One Chapter at a Time,” a program in which they have teamed up with vendors, schools, libraries, and businesses in Cache Valley to give back to teachers and students. Their teacher of the month program provides the opportunity for featured teachers to receive a door makeover and a Book Table gift card. September’s Teacher of the Month, who was nominated for the outstanding impact she has had on her students and fellow teachers, is Chelsey Petersen, the special education preschool teacher for children ages 3-6 at Riverside Preschool.
Chelsey and her husband, Chad, have lived in Logan for the past 18 years. They have twin daughters, Raegan and Brooklyn, and two dogs, Bentley and Dusty. Their family enjoys playing games, camping, supporting the Aggies, and spending time with family and friends. Ever since she was a little girl, Chelsey knew that she wanted to become a teacher. This came from her desire to help others. “I believe that all students can learn, just at a different pace and in their own ways,” she said. When she was younger, she played school with her dolls and stuffed animals, and even asked for a whiteboard and school supplies for Christmas.
Chad and Chelsey Petersen with their daughters, Raegan and Brooklyn.
This is her eighth year teaching preschool in Logan City School District and her second year teaching at Riverside Preschool. She loves being a special education teacher because of how the classroom environment is always changing, making every day a new adventure. She loves interacting and collaborating with her amazing team of special educators.
“Chelsey teaches in the classroom next to me and she goes above and beyond every day making our students feel safe and at home and helping her fellow teachers with any questions they may have,” a fellow teacher at Riverside said. “[Chelsey] forges ahead [through challenges] every day and is always trying to figure out how to best meet the needs of our students and their various special needs.”
It is evident that Chelsey has a genuine love for each of her students and truly enjoys what she does, even when her job isn’t easy.
“It is definitely a team effort,” Chelsey said. “As a special education parent, I also have experience on the family side, so I feel like I have a different point of view and understanding because I have experience on both sides. I feel like I am a good advocate and resource for my students and their families.”
An impactful experience that Chelsey shared was an instance in which a student was screaming on the school bus, but stopped as soon as he saw her, embracing her with a huge smile when he got to the door. “In that moment, I knew that I was making a difference for him and that he felt happy in my classroom,” she said. “The relationships and trust that I develop with my students and their families make the hard days totally worth it.”
When asked what she loves about her students at Riverside, Chelsey responded saying, “Where do I even begin? They are INCREDIBLE! I am so thankful for the opportunity to be a part of their lives and their educational journey. I love their determination and resilience. Their willingness to work hard and to try their best makes it so worth it. We celebrate the little things and the big things. I love seeing their faces light up when they point to a color that we have been working on, when they count to five independently, or when they say their first word or take their first step independently. I love seeing them include and interact with their peers of all abilities. They truly see each other as equals and are so loving and kind to each other. They are examples of how we should treat others.”
Chelsey is an amazing individual who has contributed much to our community through her patience, love, and attentiveness as a teacher. The compassion that she has toward her students and the willingness to help that she demonstrates with her fellow teachers clearly shows in all that she does. We are thankful for wonderful teachers like her who make Cache Valley a better place to live.