Position: Dean's Assistant
School: Larkin High School
School District: School District U-46
City, State: Elgin, Illinois
About the Nominee: Dawn Todd was nominated by her principal, Jon Tuin. Ms. Todd has served Larkin High School for much longer than the eight years that her nominator has been the principal. Her responsibility is to assist the deans in monitoring and supervising students. This role requires someone willing to engage with students and get to know them. Her ability to learn about students and their stories is amazing. She takes a personal interest in every student, often helping them to meet very basic needs like food and clothing. Ms. Todd does this under the radar and sacrificially. Being trained as a social worker, she is keenly aware of when students are hurting and in need. Although her responsibility usually calls for her to supervise or transport despondent students, she finds ways to meet the needs of many students in a discrete manner.
The best example of how involved she gets in helping students occurred this past year. A very talented student graduated from Larkin High School last year. They worked hard in school because their goal was to attend a major university, but unfortunately, they realized during the college search process that being accepted was only one barrier to overcome. The expense of attending college proved to be more than the student and their family could support. That was when Ms. Todd reached out to play a role in helping this student achieve their dream of graduating from college.
After visiting several colleges, the student was accepted into Michigan State University, where their heart was set on attending, but the cost was prohibitive. Ms. Todd not only graduated from Michigan State, but her father happened to be a former and highly respected president of the university. Mr. Tuin has spoken with Ms. Todd several times about her father and his impact on the college. Unfortunately, her father became ill and passed away in the spring of 2016. It was a sad time in Mrs. Todd's life, but the funeral and celebration of her father at the university provided great support. While she was at the university for her father's memorial, she talked to some of the staff members about her talented student. Ms. Todd ended up creating a scholarship fund for them using her own money. Because of her direct intervention, this student is currently attending MSU as a freshman.
On the day that Mr. Tuin submitted his nomination, he came across a picture of the student's extended family coming to Lansing for parents' weekend. Some thirty people - aunts, uncles, parents and children - were all dressed in Michigan State attire, a fitting celebration for a young person who will be the first in their family to graduate from college. Ms. Todd will retire someday from U-46, but her legacy of helping students will live on for generations.