High school years are such a difficult time as our teenagers grow up, trying to figure out who they are and what they want to be. Heaven knows, there’s plenty of temptation out there. Unfortunately, a fair number of kids fall prey to the temptations.
Thankfully, though, we’re a country that believes in a second chance. Schools are the best places to offer them, especially when there’s someone like Shane Thill as a model and a guiding hand.
Shane is an assistant principal at Mitchell High School in Mitchell, South Dakota, and–more importantly–the director of Second Chance High School. The name says it all, doesn’t it?
Shane does such an amazing job helping students put their lives on a positive track that he was awarded the LifeChanger of the Year grand prize at an awards ceremony yesterday.
“Shane exemplifies what it means to be a LifeChanger. He is selfless, compassionate and genuinely concerned about making a positive difference in the lives of students,” said Mehran Assadi, President and CEO at National Life Group. “The hundreds of comments we received on his nomination profile page from students, former students, parents, colleagues and community members are proof-positive that he is indeed changing lives.”
National Life sponsors the LifeChanger of the Year program, getting hundreds of nominations each school year from across the country. This year, we narrowed it to 15 LifeChangers representing pretty much every corner of the country.
The five finalists were given a trip to Mexico for the awards ceremony where Shane was announced as the grand prize winner. He was also given a $5,000 cash prize and his school also gets $5,000.
His nomination made clear why he is truly such a LifeChanger. Shane established a high school level Rotary Club, called “Interact,” and has coordinated with local businesses and organizations in the community to obtain scholarship applications, volunteer opportunities and work experience options for students. He has been known to stay up all night if students need him and invests personal time, energy and resources to help them succeed in life.
“Shane and his wife Deb opened their home up to me, helped me get a car, and cared in ways I would have never imagined,” said former student Selena Thomas. “I completed my schooling at the Alternative School in about two and a half months, but the lessons I learned went beyond the doors of that building.”
Colleagues report being inspired by Shane and many go to him for advice. Community leaders acknowledge the confident and engaged students he presents to them and appreciate his impact on Mitchell’s youth and their futures.
“I have worked with Shane for the past 10 years and he has always been an inspiration. Many of Shane’s students have every reason to fail, yet he is able to show them success,” said Mitchell High School Principal, Joe Childs. “He takes those who have little hope of succeeding, and he offers them a second chance. Shane gives all of his students a chance to buy into the program, a chance to graduate, a chance to find success and, for many, he’s offering a chance at a better future. Many times, I have heard former students explain that they wouldn’t have made it without him.”
We’re thankful there are teachers in America like Shane Thill who are willing and able to give students a second chance. They’re all LifeChangers, really, and we congratulate them.