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American Legion presents awards for teacher, firefighter and law enforcement officer of the year

PMG PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Kristole Juker, who teaches social studies and social justice at Estacada Middle School, was recently honored as the American Legion Carl Douglas Posts teacher of the year.

The Estacada American Legion Carl Douglas Post recently recognized their teacher, firefighter and law enforcement officer of the year.

During a meeting on Thursday, April 18, the Post honored Kristole Juker of Estacada Middle School, Nick Wettlaufer of the Estacada Rural Fire District and Deputy Dan Steeves of the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office for their service to the community.

Steeves has worked for the sheriff's office for 16 years and is currently in charge of the department's fleet of vehicles, purchasing cars and ensuring that they are outfitted and maintained.

He said he was "shocked and honored" to receive the award.

"It was very flattering," he added.

Steeves appreciates helping people through his work.

"(The best part of the job is) being able to protect people who can't protect themselves, and ensure that everyone is safe," he said. "It's rewarding when you've helped someone and you can see how it's improved their lives."

Wettlaufer has been a volunteer with the Estacada Rural Fire District for five years. For him, the most rewarding part of the job is "the idea that I can do something to help when someone is having their worst day."

Wettlaufer sought out the fire industry after spend-

ing two years in the U.S. Navy.

"I started volunteering at a local fire department in Alaska. It gave me a sense of brotherhood that I missed from the military," he said. "That's not easily found in the world in this day and age."

Wettlaufer particularly appreciates the sense of community found within the ranks of Estacada firefighters.

"The relationship that the volunteers have with the career firefighters is unique to Estacada," he said. "In a lot of combination departments, there's a pretty distinct line. We don't have that line in Estacada."

Juker has taught social studies and social justice at Estacada Middle School for five years. Prior to that, she was a substitute teacher in the district.

Juker appreciates cultivating relationships with students.

"I really enjoy welcoming them into my classroom each day, and making that connection," she said.

She noted that the last several years have seen a focus on building community at the middle school.

"We're giving kids the opportunity to brainstorm about what they would like to see in school through leadership and student learning (classes)," she

said.

PMG PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Deputy Dan Steeves of the Clackamas County Sheriffs Office, was named law enforecment offier of the year, by  the American Legion Carl Douglas Post.

Through her service learning class, Juker appreciates connecting her students with other Estacada residents and organizations.

"It's really getting out into the community," she said, noting that they visit the Estacada Area Food Bank and elementary schools, work in the school gardens and pick up litter around town, among other projects.

Juker also enjoys watching student progress.

"It's extremely rewarding when I'm able to support a student who is struggling, either academically or behaviorally, and help that student come up with supports and strategies that work

for them. It's amazing to watch students make mistakes, make the necessary adjustments and grow," she said


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