We’re seldom surprised by the generosity of the educators who win our LifeChanger of the Year awards. It’s a big reason why they were selected in the first place. But we’re always so impressed how they continue to give back time and time again.
Awards season is well under way for LifeChanger, which recognizes how educators in K-12 schools all around the country go above and beyond in making sure our kids get plenty more than just the three Rs at school, regardless of whether it’s in a classroom or in a remote setting such as we’ve seen this year.
We’ve now held surprise ceremonies to let the five finalists for our grand prize know that they’re in the running for our $10,000 top award, which is split evenly between the educator and each of their schools. As finalists, they’ve already qualified for $5,000 awards.
And already some of those finalists have plans for their prizes: They’re plowing it back into the programs that earned them the recognition in the first place.
Take Lindsey Ison, pictured above, whose title at Fairhaven School in Niles, Ohio, is Cafeteria Supervisor but whose real role is much larger than that would suggest. She has spent countless hours educating students, staff and family at her school about health eating and then winning grants to make it even more fun and effective.
And Sue Day similarly does much more than her title of School Counselor at Joplin High School in Missouri suggests. For decades, she has encouraged and inspired her students to get through school and continue their educations, helping them through everything from the minor challenges of growing up to the unexpected catastrophe of a natural disaster.
Their stories are so impressive and well worth visiting the LifeChanger of the Year site to read. But the notes they sent us about what they plan to do with their prizes are just as inspiring. See what you think.
First, here’s what Lindsey told us:
“Thank you so much! It is such an honor and is such a surprise! I am still on cloud 9 and I feel so blessed. I truly was speechless. I went home and celebrated with my children who thought it was so cool and I know it planted more seeds in their little hearts to help others as well. Honestly, it was the best way to end the week and start the weekend!
“I asked my superintendent what other programs I had permission to start at the school! I honestly love my school and all of the people in it. It is on my heart to find solutions for their needs. I teamed up with our Early Intervention Specialist and local retailers in our community and we are now creating ‘The Bulldog Boutique,’ which will provide our students and early intervention clients (birth to 3 years old) with necessities like toiletries, diapers, winter coats, clothing, shoes, bookbags, etc. Our boutique will also be classroom based and students will take inventory, fill orders, stock the room, develop organizational skills and much more. Our transition coordinator and job coaches will use these job skills to help our students with the transition into our community workforce once they graduate. Thank you for blessing our school with your generous donation. Words cannot describe my gratitude. I am so grateful for your organization and how you touch our hearts and give back to our communities across the country.”
And here’s what Sue wrote:
“It is such an honor to be selected as a LifeChanger of the year finalist. I am honored and humbled to have been recognized by the LifeChanger program. From the LifeChanger Facebook page, I have learned so much about what teachers are doing successfully around the country. I have also had the opportunity to connect and reconnect with teachers and interesting people I would otherwise not have heard from. Thank you!
“I am excited to share with you some good news! The LifeChanger program has helped me honor my school district. In turn the district will combine their portion of the cash prize with my portion of the cash prize and establish a LifeChanger Scholarship fund for Joplin High School students!”
Our goal with LifeChanger of the Year is to recognize the amazing work that we see in so many schools. And after this year of unbelievable challenge, we are humbled to learn how their devotion to their students and communities only grows from one year to another.
Thank you to our educators. They’re all LifeChangers.