Teacher who built Dane County’s jail high school to retire

Natalie Yahr:

“My first order of business when I would get kids would be to help them understand that they have value, because they would come in thinking that they were worthless.” That, she says, is why there has never been a fight in her classroom. “As soon as they learned that they have value and that they can learn, it made all of us safer and it made them future-oriented.”

‘I’ve given all that I can’

Deciding to retire wasn’t easy, Anderson said, adding that she wasn’t sure until she submitted her retirement paperwork. But she said she’s been suffering from “compassion fatigue,” a phenomenon common among those who spend their careers in emotionally taxing careers. Anderson likened her situation to the book, “The Giving Tree,” in which a tree gives shade, support and ultimately its own life to a child.

“I told kids earlier this year. I said, ‘I’m a stump. I’m a polished stump.’ People can sit on me, they can rest, but sometimes I just feel like I’ve given all that I can, and I have to be able to give at home,” Anderson said, adding that she wants to make way for someone else to step into the role.

The Madison Metropolitan School District will be responsible for filling Anderson’s position.

Related: Madison’s long term, disastrous reading results