Position: Media Specialist
School: Loughman Oaks Elementary School
School District: Polk County Public Schools
City, State: Davenport , Florida
About the Nominee: Joel DeGraaf received multiple nominations from members of his community, including a colleague, Shannon DeGraaf and a friend, Annette Freemon. Mr. DeGraaf has worked at Loughman Oaks Elementary School (LOE) for ten years. In those years, he has taught many different grade levels starting with 3rd and 5th grade, and now serves as the Media Specialist. He wanted to do more for all students by reaching them in the library. Mr. DeGraaf leads by example and by instilling in students a love for reading. LOE students compete each year in the A-Team and ITV Team and have taken home many first and second place awards, trophies and ribbons due to his excellent teaching and influence. His character is impeccable, and he exudes leadership among his colleagues and parents.
Mr. DeGraaf has fought tirelessly to make sure the students of LOE have every opportunity to succeed in life. He asks the community for donations, starts fund raisers and hosts family nights, and he gathers and purchases clothes and shoes for students in need. Mr. DeGraff is always on the lookout for any opportunity he can use to help his students further their education. He uses the tools in the library to intrigue his students. Having no children of his own, Mr. DeGraff cares about his students as if they were his own.
In addition to his duties as a Media Specialist, Mr. DeGraaf is actively involved with committees and student clubs. He is part of the PBS committee, and he helps to plan and coordinate monthly events such as the annual spring carnival, laser light show and winter wonderland, which involves extensive decorating. He's also part of the SAC committee, making an impact in his school and building relationships within the community. Mr. DeGraaf is a LifeChanger and inspirational leader to his students and community!