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NAPERVILLE, Ill. — WGN’s February Teacher of the Month has a classroom full of kinder-stars in Naperville. 

Mrs. Courtney Loos says character building is her number one priority. And she’s teaching by example what it means to be kind. 

She is intentional about making sure her kindergarteners feel valued and respected. She’s been teaching for 15 years, the past nine at Prairie Elementary School in Naperville.     

“I want to be their safe space,” she said. “They are amazing. They each have so much in their personalities and I always tell them, ‘I learn from you.’” 

Last year, after receiving a note from a parent during the holidays, she jumped into action. WGN News is not identifying this mother or her child because they’re domestic abuse survivors. But the mother said Loos quickly connected her with a school social worker and they pulled together donations of gifts and food for the family. 

“They were collecting coats and things like that and I just sent her a note saying, ‘I love being on the giving end, but I’m kind of in a position this holiday season where I need help,’ the mother said. “They just really made the holiday season happen for me. … I don’t think there’s words for that. It’s just amazing.”

“It just makes me cry,” Loos said. “Anyone walking in this building, if they would have seen the note that a student is in need, they’re not going to throw that away. No one here would. And all I did was I took that note to look for resources.” 

The mother nominated Loos for teacher of the month because she wanted to do something to give back. 

Award sponsor Howard Ankin of Ankin Law presented Loos with a $1,000 check for the school. 

The mother said her child is excelling in Loos’ classroom and they’re beyond grateful for the support and kindness.

“It’s hard but you can get out and there’s always people who are going come around you,” the mother said. “Don’t be embarrassed. Be vocal. Stay strong. The days get better.”

“I am an advocate for my students and for their families,” Loos said. “It was our community coming together. It was not me. It was me advocating.”