LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Lori Bongert

Position: Fourth Grade Teacher
School: Rio Elementary School
School District: Rio Community Schools
City, State: Rio, WI

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Lori Bongert was nominated by her colleague, Samantha Marquardt. 

Mrs. Bongert is an incredible educator and leader who positively affects everyone around her.

"When students come around the corner heading towards their 4th grade classroom, their eyes light up when they see Mrs. Bongert," Marquardt said. "With a smile on her face and joy in her voice, she is always happy to see each student."

Mrs. Bongert likes to begin each day on a positive note. She builds relationships with her students, understands best practices and differentiates them for each student. Mrs. Bongert volunteers regularly for activities that benefit students, including an after-school Makersclub group and a Girls Run Club. She attends sporting events and activities for her students and is very visible in their lives; even after they leave her classroom.

She understands relationship-building is key. Most recently, Mrs. Bongert has been coordinating an event at the elementary school where the graduating seniors walk through the halls in their caps and gowns for all of the elementary students to see and share in the excitement of graduation. She understands how inspiring this will be for her students.

Mrs. Bongert is a known instructional leader in her district. She was an Educator Effectiveness coach, and she attends regular professional development opportunities and serves as a technology leader in the district. She is constantly looking for ways to make learning more meaningful for her students. Mrs. Bongert has recently organized a group of teachers to attend a professional development opportunity called, “Teach Like a Pirate.” Other teachers see her as a leader and a mentor.

"Mrs. Bongert encourages, inspires and truly cares about the students and staff she works with every day," Marquardt said. "When I think of the idea of a LifeChanger, I absolutely and completely think of Lori Bongert. She will be the teacher kids remember as a teacher who truly made a difference in their lives."

Comments (20)

Kelley Hoffman Posted over a year ago

I am a high school teacher in a completely different building than Lori but nevertheless Lori has had, and continues to have, a positive influence on my teaching. Whenever I see Lori she is always happy - a smile on her face and ready to learn. Most often I see her at technology related events where she continually goes above and beyond in her learning and application of her learning for her students. Her classes are engaging yet challenging and the students are actively learning. Lori's passion and excitement for her students is invigorating and contagious. She continues to inspire me to be the best teacher I can be.

Kayla Schmitt Posted over a year ago

Lori is s phenomenal educator, mentor, role model, and friend. She greets each and every person she meets with a genuine smile. My daughter was blessed to have her as a teacher. She came home from school filled with fun stories from her classroom and was excited to return the next day. Lori makes learning fun. She has a passion for teaching and it shows in her students. She gets to know each of her students and their families. This gives her a whole person picture to better help her students in any possible way she can. Lori was an amazing fit as a teacher for my daughter. My daughter tends to be shy and reserved in school. Lori was able to pull her out of her shell quickly and engage her continuously. At the end of the year her students had a project that was displayed in the hall outside of her classroom. They completed a page listing facts about themselves such as favorite ice cream and book. One of the sections asked "Who is your hero?" My daughter said that Mrs. Bongert is her hero. I am beyond blessed to have such a positive influence in my children's lives. She has also inspired at least one future daughter. Lori is very deserving of this honor.

Sherri Manthe Posted over a year ago

I have known Lori Bongert since she was a little girl. She was always outgoing and friendly and could strike up a conversation with anyone. She really shined when she participated in 4H demonstrations and competitions. This has carried on to her classroom and students. She has always watched for bargains at craft stores and garage sales to supply projects and a homey atmosphere in her classroom, from her own pocket. She applies for grants for higher budget items (like a SMART board) for her classroom and knows other avenues to draw from when needed. The thing that I admire most is when she is swarmed by former students while at a park or social event in or around Rio. That is the real testament of a teacher that is truly loved.

Mary Karsten Posted over a year ago

I don’t know anyone more deserving of the Life Changer of the Year award than Mrs. Bongert! She is always positive and upbeat with a smile on her face. Any child would be lucky to have her in the classroom!!

JoAnne Heintz Posted over a year ago

Lori Bongert is a positive, genuinely happy person. She sees the best in everyone, she looks for the best in everyone., and then encourages them to do their best. She searches for new and better ideas to use in her classroom. She uses exciting and interesting methods to get the students excited to learn. I agree that Lori Bongert is an incredible teacher. I definitely see Lori Bongert as a teacher who changes the life of a child.

Kate Carlson Posted over a year ago

Lori is inspiring to students, fellow teachers and parents. I first met Lori when she was assigned to teach first grade with another teacher and me. We shared planning time each week and although Lori was our junior by several years, she dove right in with ideas, expertise and time to develop lessons that fit our students. Her boundless energy is infectious. Her knowledge of technology helped both of we “veteran”teachers to become more tech savvy and translate that to our own students. Lori has a can-do attitude and there is nothing she cannot accomplish with excellence. She truly loves her students and tirelessly works to make them successful meeting them at their level and propelling them on to new learnings all the while building their can-do attitudes and self-esteem. We are very lucky to have her teach in our Rio Community Schools.

Craig Vetter Posted over a year ago

Lori Bongert is an amazing teacher who goes above and beyond the normal duties that are expected from a classroom teacher. She leads after school clubs, volunteers to be part of parent nights and attends other district events. Lori also is a technology leader and an educator effectiveness coach. In both of these roles she supports teachers and helps them get better in their craft. However, what makes Lori a truly special teacher is what she does in the classroom. She genuinely cares about her students and does everything possible to help them succeed. Her positive attitude and desire to continually improve as a teacher help to make each day in her classroom an amazing learning experience for her students. Lori Bongert is definitely a LifeChanger.

Barbara Bongert Posted over a year ago

Mrs. (Lori) Bongert is not only an amazing teacher, she is an awesome young woman who has helped many outside of the school setting and to me, is a truly loving and loved daughter-in-law! She and my son met in college at Platteville while participating in a Relay For Life event. She is more of a loving & helpful "daughter" and so thoughtful always. They both took part in many programs of this type, including a Habitat for Humanity "build" there. She is a "doer" and as others have said in their comments about her, she spends much time after school and outside of school helping students and to find new ways or ideas to help each student to understand their individual uniqueness and how special they are. The "one-on-one lunches & other ways she works with each student is really such an important part of her teaching that endears her students to her as she truly cares about each & every one of them. She recently showed us pictures of some of her former students who graduated this year and she beemed as she explained they were in her first class, teaching at Rio & she received invitations to their graduation & parties. I could go on & on about activities she has lead or took part in, some for years already, in her church as a Youth Leader, and many others and for many community fund raisers and other volunteering programs. We are so happy and proud to have Lori (Mrs. Bongert) a part of our family and believe she truly deserves the honor of being chosen as "Lifechanger of the Year" as she is an outstanding teacher whom I'm sure has changed many of her students' lives in positive ways, plus being a loving wife to our son, mother to two young children (3 & 6) and is part of a close family, having grown up on a farm and took part in many 4-H activities and school sports. She has been a "Lifechanger" for many!

Nicole Moll Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Bongert is a creative teacher who strives to inspire her students daily. She thinks out of the box to make sure every student understands and is learning to the best of their ability. She is positive, kind and motivated to give every student the best experience.

Megan Hartley Posted over a year ago

Lori has been a life changer for my family both as a colleague and as a teacher. Professionally, I have been blessed to be able to work with her for several years. Lori is glitter personified. She radiates happiness, love, and positive energy. This carries over to all her co-workers and students and boosts the entire school's atmosphere. She taught both of my children when they were in fourth grade, and they LOVED her. They couldn't wait to go to school every day, and were excited to tell me all about their learning adventures at night. She gave them lessons and memories that they will carry with them for the rest of their lives, and I will be forever grateful. Lori - thank you for being YOU, and everything that you do for our students and our school.

Kelly Griffiths Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Bongert is an amazing teacher. She taught both of my children. Despite being very different kids with very different learning styles she was able to help both of them shine. She finds ways to teach each child as an individual. If something wasn't working she tried different approaches until she found what did work. She makes learning fun and engaging. She invests a lot of herself in to her teaching and it shows. I think my kids were very fortunate to have been in her classroom.

Barb Attoe Posted over a year ago

Lori's Positive comments SMILE, SPARKLE, SHINE......that describes Mrs. Bongert and her class. She has a supply of glitter in her classroom and tells her students not to be afraid to shine. Don't let anyone dull your sparkle and be sure to leave a little sparkle wherever you go. This sure seems to make her students smile a little more and more willing to give a helping hand to others. Mrs. Bongert selects one student to have lunch with her in her classroom. That student is so excited to have this special one on one time to eat lunch together and just talk. A way for Mrs. Bongert to really get to know the student and what's going on in their life, while making them feel very special. Mrs. Bongert spends many hours after school preparing special classroom activities so her students are excited about coming and having fun learning something new. She also arranges for special guests to come to talk so her students get a real hands on learning. She tells them of the importance of writing thank you notes to others. So recently, they all made a thank you card for a Veteran on the Badger Honor Flight. He was so moved by all the special written notes from each student. He came to their classroom so he could personally meet them and thank them. Mrs. Bongert is always going above and beyond by spending her own time on her special projects for the students. She has set up a Makerspace for students after school to work on making STEM activities. Also, on her own time, she is involved with the Girls Running Club. It's not about who's fastest but the joy of getting out and doing an activity together and learning about self esteem. She is also an Educator Effectiveness coach, so she is constantly improving herself and helping her co-workers. When you are in her classroom you will see on her wall large letters that say "You Are Loved" and each of her students know this is true. They leave her room ready to Smile, Sparkle, and Shine!

Mary C Johnson Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Bongert is a wonderful teacher and communicator with both students and parents. The weekly email newsletters were a great way to keep in touch with the parents. She is "in tune" with her students and always available to help when they are struggling with school or personal issues. I am excited to see what other initiatives Mrs. Bongert is a part of in the upcoming years.

Julie Schoeneberg Posted over a year ago

Our daughter was new to the school district this year. Prior to the beginning of the year, Mrs. Bongert (while volunteering at a community event) made a point to come over and introduce herself to our daughter and to tell her how excited she was to have her in class. Mrs. Bongert also sent home a questionnaire giving parents an opportunity to share with her their child's likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. She really takes the time to get to know each and every child! Our daughter has REALLY STRUGGLED with Math in the past, to the point of tears every night while doing homework. That changed this year. Mrs. Bongert found different ways to teach Math, including getting the students started with online programs that they could also practice at home. Now our daughter looks forward to Math! Mrs. Bongert brings learning to life; she's been known to transform the classroom into a scene from a book they've been reading, she creates learning stations for hands-on experiments, she utilizes the community library for lessons on stop-action animation, has the older children read to the Early Learners... I could go on and on. I am amazed at her creativity. She teaches her students to have a growth mindset - in everything that they do. Midway through the year I was trying to learn a new computer program, and was getting very frustrated. Our daughter came in our office and said to me, "Don't say you can't do it, you just can't do it yet. Keep working and you'll get it." What a ripple effect! She even had the students evaluate themselves and lead the discussion during parent teacher conferences. I saw a side of our daughter that I hadn't seen before. She was very self-aware. She was proud of her accomplishments and had a plan to improve in areas where she struggled a bit. What an experience! Mrs. Bongert, along with her co-workers, also volunteered their time to start a girls running club after school. It was a chance for girls to learn about not only physical well-being, but to support each other and build each other up. I cannot say enough good about Lori Bongert. She is an inspiration. We are so lucky to have her teach at our school. Please consider her strongly for Lifechanger of the Year.

Nicole Bagwell Posted over a year ago

Where do I even start. Mrs. Bongert is a great teacher, colleague and friend. It's a joy to see her come in to work every morning with a smile on her face and a pep in her step. She not only brightens my day, but students and other staff members as well. She is a great asset to Rio Elementary School and to the Rio Community. She truly cares about each and every student of hers and many others she meets from other grades in the hallways. If her students are hurting she feels their pain. She truly cares about them. Her job as a teacher doesn't end at 3:45 pm. She spends a great deal of her time at home coming up with new activities to make learning enjoyable and educational. There is so much that she does for her students and for this school. She is involved in many activities after school with her students and in the community. My daughter had Mrs. Bongert as her teacher and couldn't say enough about her. She absolutely adored her. Even though she goes home at the end of her to her family, her job as a teacher never ends. She always gives a 110% and goes above and beyond what is expected of any teacher. I am honored to call her my colleague and friend.

Dana Tait Posted over a year ago

Lori is a positive and ambitious educator. She is creative and always is looking to do new and innovative things for students. She creates engaging learning environments and goes above and beyond to to what is best for kids.

Michelle Anglemyer Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Bongert is an awesome teacher. My son loved her. She really does care about her students and the school. I am honored to be able to say what a terrific teacher she is!!

Tamara Black Posted over a year ago

Lori Bongert is a wonderful co-worker and a joy to be around! She inspires me to be a better teacher through her devotion to her students and her profession. She is always looking for new ideas to keep her students engaged and current with today's technology and learning. Whenever she enters a room, she lights it up with her outgoing personality and laughter. She is volunteers for different projects constantly and is very committed to making our school district the best that it can be. Her students adore her and often come back to visit or chat with her - even when they are in high school. She is also loved by parents and other community members because she is always reaching out to communicate with them and participate in events in the community, even though she does not live here. She is an enthusiastic and compassionate educator and most definitely a LifeChanger, both for myself and all others whose lives touch hers!

Marsha Braatz Posted over a year ago

When I asked my 4th grader how he liked his teacher after the first day of school this year, he said he liked her lots because Mrs. Bongert is always smiling. Mrs. Bongert’s love for teaching shows on her face and in her work. I received a phone call from her after school one night last fall because Mrs. Bongert was concerned about speech therapy needs for my 4th grader. After sharing her personal struggles, referrals, and testing, my child is now receiving the necessary assistance to be more successful in speaking and reading. He recently nominated Mrs. Bongert for the Crystal Apple Award on his own. Although he’s disappointed she didn’t win it, the quote he submitted about her proves that she is a good candidate for life changer of the year: “She brightens everybody’s day, just like a light bulb.” I have definitely seen a great change in my 4th grader’s life this year.

Karrie Landsverk Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Bongert taught both of my children and has left a positive impact on each one. She has great enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and it has a wonderful ripple effect on how her students learn. I remember she was on the cutting edge as our district was integrating smart boards into the classroom to jump right in and begin using new apps. She taught her students how to use the smart board right away and had them involved with technology throughout their entire day of learning. She didn't run from technology; she embraced it and continues to do so. She has a wonderful way to relate to her students; helping them all feel welcome, accepted and special. She has a great sense of humor that blends perfectly with the older elementary student and keeps students wanting to come back each day. I also served on the school board for seven years in our district and saw first hand how Lori Bongert took the lead on many committees and professional development opportunities to improve teaching and engagement of students for her and her peers. Her name came up numerous times as someone who was involved, spearheading and collaborating with her peers to improve learning opportunities. I strongly agree with Mrs. Marquardt's sentiments that Lori Bongert is a woman and teacher who is a life changer for her students and her colleagues.