Rebekah Taylor

Position: Kindergarten Teacher

School: Doak Elementary School

School District: Greene County Schools

City, State: Greeneville, Tennessee

About the Nominee: Rebekah Taylor was nominated by her principal, Jennifer Teague. Ms. Taylor should be the “poster child” for early childhood! Her heart and passion is in those early years of development, and she knows the difference a good start in school can make. Ms. Taylor arrived at Doak after taking some time off to raise her children. She stepped in as if she had always been a part of this team. She is a leader in the building and definitely a “runner” on her school's bus. Ms. Taylor is a perfectionist who is always striving to do more and to do better. She has worked hard in the last couple of years to develop lasting, ongoing relationships with her students and their parents. After her father passed away a couple of years ago, she has decided to go back and get her doctorate. She is an incredible LifeChanger!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="rebekah.taylor@gcstn.org"]

Jennifer Stanley

Position: Assistant Principal, Sixth Grade

School: Carter Middle School

School District: Knox County Schools

City, State: Strawberry Plains, Tennessee

About the Nominee: Jennifer Stanley was nominated by a colleague, Greg Green. This story begins when Mr. Green worked as a 5th grade teacher at an elementary school in the same county as Ms. Stanley. As an educator, Mr. Green was doing a fine job. He was on his school's leadership team, helped develop a new positive behavior plan to be implemented at the school, earned high accolades from both parents and students alike and was well-respected by his wonderful peers, whom he thought of as family.

That summer, Mr. Green faced challenges when the principal of his school was reassigned to another one. As a result, he was transferred to Carter Middle, where Ms. Stanley works. He spent his last day moving his possessions out of his school amid hugs and sad farewells from his colleagues.

As he was taking his belongings to his home, Mr. Green pondered. He thought about how many students he had helped. He thought about the many wonderful colleagues and their wonderful friendships that had formed. He thought about his family, who relies on him to not only support them monetarily, but emotionally.

Mr. Green was terrified about starting at a new school. Thankfully, logic soon kicked in and he returned to unloading his belongings. About a week later, he went to meet the administrative staff at Carter Middle. He spent a good deal of time with his new grade-level administrator, Ms. Stanley.

Any negative thoughts Mr. Green may have had were allayed when he was told that the past was over and a new future was just beginning. Ms. Stanley, by virtue of accepting him for who and what he was, helped allay his pent-up fears.

To shore up his confidence, Mr. Green was awarded Teacher of the Month shortly after school started. Ms. Stanley was squarely behind this accolade. Mr. Green thought it was a mistake, but Ms. Stanley matter-of-factually stated that he deserved it. Case closed. Upon leaving that afternoon, he saw her enroute to his car and asked if he could give her a hug as a means to thank her. She agreed without trepidation. This small token of humanity made Mr. Green realize that he was truly wanted in his new location.

As he starts his second year at Carter Middle, Mr. Green feels that he is in the right place because of working with Ms. Stanley. The healing process of what happened to him the year before he met Ms. Stanley isn't complete, but Mr. Green states that it's headed in the right direction because he knows that he can trust his administrator. Ms. Stanley is not merely a LifeChanger; she is a life saver!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="jennifer.stanley@knoxschools.org"]

David Smith

Position: Principal

School: Whitwell Elementary School

School District: Marion County Schools

City, State: Whitwell, Tennessee

About the Nominee: David Smith is the most loving and nurturing educators one could ever meet. He is the only male teacher at Whitwell Elementary School, and he serves as a positive "father figure" for over 500 students. Mr. Smith loves his students as if they were his own children. He always refers to them as his babies. He spends his own money to buy shoes, clothes, food, and school supplies for his students. Mr. Smith has helped students for more than 20 years, and they all love him dearly. He coached football for years and started the Whitwell Middle School "Paper Clip" Project. The project is known around the world for its lessons of tolerance and respect. He speaks at schools, churches and events worldwide. Mr. Smith does not charge anything for his time, but does it because he loves educating others.

Every day, he deals with challenges with a smile. He loves his faculty and truly treats them as family. Mr. Smith has faced some health struggles over the past couple of years, but he still went to school every day. Even though there were many days where he didn't feel good, he wore a smile and made it through the day. He always said that "his babies needed to see him," and that his school was his "Happy Place." Mr. Smith does whatever he can to promote a safe learning atmosphere at Whitwell Elementary and will do whatever he needs to do to make his students smile. He is an avid reader and really pushes his students to read. Mr. Smith has sacrificed a lot for all of his students and has never asked for anything in return. He is humble and kind! He has positively touched, not only the people of the Whitwell community, but people from around the globe. He is known by many and loved by everyone.

[nominee_videos nominee_email="dsmith@mctns.net"]

Crystal Tharp

Position: School Counselor

School: Charjean Elementary

School District: Shelby County Schools

City, State: Memphis, Tennessee

About the Nominee: Crystal Tharp is a dedicated school counselor. She is more than a school employee; she is a friend to the parents and teaching staff. Ms. Tharp will give until it hurts. She gives her time, money and advice. She shows love every day. Principals come to her for leadership. When the principal asks her to do extra duties, she smiles and get the job done.

Her nominator, who wishes to remain anonymous, has since left the school system, but says that they miss her smile and the long talks they used to have after school. She is an incredible LifeChanger!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="Tharpca@scsk12.org"]

Jessica Seaton

Position: Third Grade Teacher

School: Christenberry Elementary School

School District: Knox County Schools

City, State: Knoxville, Tennessee

About the Nominee: Jessica Seaton has worked tirelessly at Christenberry Elementary School to better the lives of her students. She has worked at the school for over 12 years in various ways. Mrs. Seaton truly cares about her students and helping them to be successful in life. She works in different ways to show her students that she cares. For several years, Mrs. Seaton has worked in the after school tutoring program to help students who are struggling in reading to improve their skills. Mrs. Seaton also works during her summer break to help students in summer school. She has been involved in many organizations at Christenberry; for example, she is a current member of the PTA and works on the board. She has supported the school with various clubs and sports groups. She has held leadership positions for the newspaper and manners clubs, and she also coached an AYSO team for several years. Mrs. Seaton does not care that she gives so much to these students. Many of them come from non-traditional families. For her, making them feel loved and supported is most important to her. She goes to games and cheers her students on. She works tirelessly to build relationships with students so that they can feel like they belong. She wants each and every one one of her students to become productive citizens in life.

The impact that she has made on her students and community will last longer than her lifetime!

[nominee_videos nominee_email="jessica.seaton@knoxschools.org"]