IRON RIVER, Mich. (WJMN) – We all remember Pre-K, snack time, tiny chair and arts and crafts. Most of us have only been in it once, but Denise Maloney of Iron River has been in Pre-K for 31 years.
“I accepted this position teaching Pre-K here at West Iron County Schools fresh out of college,” said Denise. “It was fall of 1989 and I loved the families, I loved the community, I love the children, I love the amazing staff that I’ve been blessed to work with and I never left.”
Denise also wears many hats throughout the community.
“When it said women that make a difference,” said Patti Sabotta, nominated Denise for Remarkable Women contest. “She does. She’s involved in you name it. From church to school to youth groups to youth camps… she’s everywhere. She’s also very involved in her family. Her son was a senior at Michigan Tech this last year and she spent the fall every weekend traveling to all of his games. She is what I think of when I say a deserving woman.”
One of Denise’s other roles is being West Iron County School’s Health and Wellness Coordinator.
“Getting students moving and helping them to develop healthy lifestyle habits that help carry them long after they leave our hallways and classrooms,” said Denise. “That’s really important to me.”
This also includes taking the time to write grants for funding and help coordinate events like 5-Ks and walking programs to promote healthy lifestyles for students and their families.
“What makes children move, also makes them think,” said Denise. “So they need to be moving, they need to be active. They need to learn about healthy nutrition habits and ways to exercise and living in the U.P., that’s something that’s really important too and so I’ve been able to do a lot of really neat things with the support of our amazing staff and our school.”
Her friends say it’s because her heart and passion for the community, that one person is able to do so much.
“I have always said that Denise has been has been the best follow through person, that I know,” said Denise’s friend, Marla Shamion. “I have good intentions of doing things but I feel that I don’t follow through enough and Denise always follows through. Whether it’s someone having a baby, a funeral, she’s always there with meals. She’s just the best follow through person.”
“Most recently, she had a child that moved here I believe it was from Tennessee,” said Carol Brunswick, former Stambaugh Elementary Principal. “And they needed winter clothes she made she that she reached out to people for clothes, winter coats, shoes, winter boots. She goes above and beyond to help everyone.”
Even though Denise does so much for community, she feels that her community givers her so much in return.
“I’ve been blessed to raise our family here, my husband and I,” said Denise. “I think I’ve grown as a teacher in lots of areas. I didn’t know I was going to be doing a lot of the other duties I’ve been assigned to do but it’s grown me as a person and as a professional and it’s allowed me to be creative. It’s allowed me to try a lot of different things and just find things that I love to do and to be creative and develop that so I always say that I’m the lucky one.”
And while sitting in Denise’s class, it was easy to see that the most important lesson she teaches her students is to be kind to one another.
“To be very compassionate, to be very kind, to bloom where you’re planted, to be helpful, to reach out,” said Denise. “And everybody is different and to celebrate those differences and to recognize that people are different but it’s okay. And at the end of the day, at the end of the day that is what that is about is the life that we live everyday. That we just try to help others and to reach out and to make our corner of the world a better place.”