Position: First Grade Teacher
School: W.D. Osborne Elementary
School District: Floyd County Schools
City, State: Bevinsville, Kentucky
About the Nominee: Dana Howard has gone above and beyond to build positive relationships with all of her students. She truly values and appreciates the qualities that make each of her students special. Her nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, would like to share their child's personal experience with Mrs. Howard, but it is only a glimpse into the impact she has on children's lives. Her nominator's child has struggled with personal issues for the last few years. Being so young, they struggle to understand their living situation and don't know how to cope with it. They hold a lot of emotions and feelings inside, often times refusing to even share them. Over the last year, they've adapted to several changes in their family life that have been great, but still overwhelming.
Mrs. Howard shared her own, similar experience with this student and took the time to listen to them when they wanted to talk. Recently, this student visited their biological dad's house, and Mrs. Howard took the time to write them a letter, telling them that she'll be there to talk and listen when they get back. At an extra-curricular event, they sat with her for the entire event and demonstrated impeccable behavior. Every day, this student, who doesn't typically show emotions, gives Mrs. Howard a hug and says, “I love you, Mrs. Howard” as they leave her classroom. This seemingly insignificant gesture, although uncharacteristic of them, is HUGE for this student and demonstrates that they feel safe and cared for.
Mrs. Howard takes the time to call or text her nominator on a frequent basis just to give them updates, and they feel comfortable in knowing that they can contact her at any time. Her nominator says they've noticed a tremendous change in their child as they seem happier. This happiness and confidence that Mrs. Howard has helped them gain shows in their academics as well. Their reading fluency has more than doubled since the beginning of the year, and they are reading almost two grade levels above average. This is just a small glimpse into the positive impact Mrs. Howard has on her students. She is truly a LifeChanger in every sense of the word!