Zach Graupner

Position: Fifth Grade Teacher

School: Plano Elementary School

School District: Warren County Schools

City, State: Bowling Green, Kentucky

About the Nominee: A LifeChanger should be an individual that goes above and beyond for every student, every day. Zach Graupner does just that, both inside and outside of the classroom. Not only does he help his students learn content, but he also helps them learn the importance of being kind, respectful and understanding. He teaches students the importance of trying your best, and that it's okay to make mistakes because that's when you learn. Mr. Graupner provides and maintains a nurturing, accepting atmosphere in his classroom to maximize student learning. Furthermore, he always goes the extra mile for his students, whether that means providing extra help for a student that's struggling with content or attending a student's extracurricular activity on his own free time. He truly cares for his students and supports them in all that they do. He makes it a priority to get to know each one of his students and what's personally important to them. Mr. Graupner also tries to get to know the students' parents/guardians so that he can establish and maintain good communication in order to help their children achieve maximum success in his classroom. It's important that parents and guardians are aware of what's going on in their child's classroom and school, and Mr. Graupner strives to make sure everyone is on the same page. In conclusion, Mr. Graupner gives 110% every day with a smile and positive attitude. He is a LifeChanger for his school and community.

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Mary Slone

Position: English Teacher

School: South Floyd School

School District: Floyd County Schools

City, State: Hi Hat, Kentucky

About the Nominee: Imagine if you were to enter a classroom full of adventure and creativity. A classroom that welcomes students to be themselves, while also creating an environment for learning. One that students looked forward to and feel safe to be in. A place for students to learn in a way that will help them outside of school. One lined with paint that has been chipped and withered from holding all of the joyous memories. Would students care a little more to understand the importance of education? If you have ever had a conversation with Ms. Mary Slone, you'd understand that she does just this. When her nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, first began their teaching career, Ms. Slone's only advice was "love kids above all else, and they will love you." She is dedicated, driven, and caring. She loves each and every student with her full potential, and she teaches like her hair is on fire every single day. Now, once more, imagine that you are a student walking through the hallways of a high school with a destination of a successful future. What if you had been given the opportunity to be your complete self and express yourself in a way that is appreciated, all while learning the things you needed to learn? Can you imagine all of the things you could have learned had you been given an efficient place to learn it? A place to feel safe and understood.

If this isn’t enough to understand the passion for her career and the people involved, please understand that Ms. Slone also volunteered to coach the middle school academic team. She dedicates her time outside of the classroom to work with students that she doesn’t even see in class. She took a team that was facing challenges and built it into one that people know and respect. Ms. Slone is a leader to students and parents. Consecutively, she is a huge part of her church in McDowell, KY, where she greatly assists children of the community and of her school in finding a spiritual future. As a teacher, Ms. Slone strives in assisting other teachers with planning and growing. She openly volunteers her ideas and vast creativity to expand into classes other than her own.

Ms. Slone is more than a teacher to the students; she is a role model, a leader and an inspiration. She is a role model for the young minds that she touches each day, and is an astonishing LifeChanger!

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Angela (Angie) Hilbert

Position: Fifth Grade Reading & Writing Teacher

School: Slaughter Elementary School

School District: Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville, KY)

City, State: Louisville, Kentucky

About the Nominee: Angie Hilbert has been teaching for 16 years and will tell you herself that she still loves to come to work every day. She brings so much energy, experience, patience and expertise to the classroom. Writing is one of the most difficult subjects for many teachers to teach, but Mrs. Hilbert makes it look like a piece of cake! Students feel capable in her classroom, and they have many opportunities to be creative and write about things they care about. She helps students set goals for themselves and pushes them towards their full potential. One of the most clear examples of her impact happened the week of her nomination. While sitting at a table group with other students, one student excitedly exclaimed, "I LOVE writing. It's so fun!" This was not just any student. This was a student who struggled since starting kindergarten. This was a student who would play and distract themselves, barely writing one sentence without lots of prompting. Today, this student can routinely write one hundred words in ten minutes because of the solid, positive, encouraging instruction they've received from Mrs. Hilbert.

The teachers and students at Slaughter Elementary face many challenges. Over 90% of students are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and roughly 50% of students spoke another language before they learned to speak English. Mrs. Hilbert has met each challenge with a smile and lots of love. She is a shining example of a LifeChanger!

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Amanda Withrow

Position: Special Education Paraprofessional

School: Lemons Mill Elementary School

School District: Scott County Schools

City, State: Georgetown, Kentucky

About the Nominee: Amanda Withrow truly impacts every life she is around on a daily basis. She works amazingly well with some of the most challenging students in her school. Her colleagues say they could not teach daily without her help and support. Every day, Ms. Withrow goes above and beyond to make sure every student is happy, safe and ready to learn at school. She is not only a LifeChanger for the students, but for the adults and staff. She is always willing to jump in and help when needed, and she will lend a hand to anyone in need. Her kind spirit radiates from her. Her nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, states that their life is better because of her!

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Diana Ratliff

Position: Head Start Teacher

School: Prestonsburg Elementary School

School District: Floyd County Schools

City, State: Prestonsburg, Kentucky

About the Nominee: Diana Ratliff, also known as "Ms. Diana," always puts students first! She greets them with a smile when they walk into the school. Students love her and get excited as soon as they see her. Ms. Diana is always asking parents if there is anything she can help them with. Her nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, states that Ms. Ratliff bought clothes for their child when they couldn't afford them and never asked for anything in return. Their child had been in the Head Start program for 2 years. Ms. Ratliff encouraged her nominator to go back school and work on their degree. She encouraged her nominator and their child to never give up and made them feel like they could accomplish anything that life throws at them. Ms. Diana is a LifeChanger to her students and their parents because she makes them feel like they are somebody. Her nominator feels that she is their family's hero!

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