Prairie Middle School counselor Kelley Whalen has been nominated for the 2018-2019 national LifeChanger of the Year award. The award recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 educators and school district employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.
Whalen, who has been a staff member at Prairie for 29 years, was nominated by a family member, Gigi Whalen, for her tireless work to improve her students’ lives. In a school where many struggle with personal challenges such as moving from school to school, Whalen works to be a source of support that students can seek out because they know she truly cares about them. She also collaborates with other staff members and parents to ensure that all students achieve their best, every day.
“She is a lifelong educator who has made a huge difference in the lives of all of her students,” said Gigi Whalen.
Each school year, LifeChanger of the Year receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Seventeen individual LifeChanger of the Year awards will be given during the 2018-2019 school year. They are:
· One Grand Prize Winner – will receive $10,000 to be shared with their school/district.
· Four Grand Prize Finalists – will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
· Ten LifeChanger Award Winners – will receive $3,000 to be shared with their school/district.
· One Spirit Award Winner – This award is given to the nominee whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
· One Spotlight Award Winner – This award is given to a nominee in a specific discipline each year. For 2018-19, the Spotlight Award will be given to a nominee who works in a counseling role (e.g, guidance counselor, social worker). The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school or district.
Winners are chosen by a selection committee composed of former winners and education professionals. They are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The grand prize finalists will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in April 2019 in Hawaii, where the Grand Prize Winner will be revealed.