Position: Student Interventionist
School: Winterset Elementary School
School District: Winterset Community School District
City, State: Winterset, Iowa
About the Nominee: Lana McDonald was nominated by Jennifer Berns. Mrs. McDonald has exhibited a genuine, caring quality which has truly been embraced by her students! She serves as her school's student interventionist, a role which comes with many rewards and challenges. It is within this role that Mrs. McDonald has gone up and beyond her responsibilities in order to assure that all students feel loved and safe at school. As a teacher, she challenges students to think "outside the box" of their own reality. Her compassion for students, who may feel unable to fit in, is second to none. She encourages students to set high expectations for themselves and not be afraid to take risks. As a result, the relationships she builds with students are amazing!
Students are not only being taught to appreciate the differences in themselves and in others, but to appreciate their choices in life. As an elementary student interventionist, Mrs. McDonald has made an extremely positive impact on her students. She consistently encourages students to "step up" and give their best efforts, even when they face challenges in their home life. Mrs. McDonald has set up supports for at-risk students in her school through a Multi-Tiered Support System. She meets with teachers, parents and students before school, during the day and even after school in order to meet all students’ needs. She created a “check in/check out” system, where she meets with students every morning before and after school. This system provides them with activities and social stories, which teaches students how to build strong relationships. When students come to school upset, Mrs. McDonald provides a calm, supportive voice for them, along with an ear to listen. As she once pointed out, "Students who feel loved come to school to learn, students who aren't come to school to feel loved." Mrs. McDonald's "culture of caring" has provided results that show that any student can be successful, regardless of their background!
Mrs. McDonald sets herself apart through her genuine care for each student and their unique qualities. She understands that each student has different backgrounds and needs for support. Her attendance to each student's needs shows a high level of commitment, which makes her a model for peers. Mrs. McDonald has initiated many supports among different grade levels in her building. She has utilized her before and after school planning time to support students' needs. This includes one-on-one conversations with students, family meetings and other types of intervention supports for families. She continually puts others' needs before her own. She has also overseen her building's monthly Positive Behavior Supports Intervention assemblies. While working with students to provide a PAW LAW video or a social story, she has never implied it was too much work. She continually strives to help students see the positives in life and encourages them to "break the cycle" of poverty and lack of education. Her commitment to students and their welfare is undeniably evident.
Mrs. McDonald has set the bar high. She has provided her peers with an example of what it means to show students they are loved and important. Every student deserves someone like Mrs. McDonald. She is a servant leader who continually inspires those around her through her daily actions and supportive ways. Winterset Elementary School and its students are very lucky to call Mrs. McDonald one of their own!