LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Chad Lechtenberger

Position: Second Grade Teacher
School: Washington Elementary School
School District: Fayetteville Public Schools
City, State: Fayetteville, AR

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Chad Lechtenberger, aka "Mr. L," was nominated by an anonymous colleague who has worked with him for several years. This year, they had the honor of having him as their son's teacher, too.

For starters, Mr. L patrols the hallways in the mornings, making sure students are welcomed into the building with a smile, and that they feel loved as soon as they enter school. Every student loves to wave to, high-five, fist-bump, or hug Mr. L to get the day started.

Secondly, Mr. L is called the "child whisperer" by his school's staff. He originally went to school and graduated college as a social worker. After working in this area, he decided to go back to school and become a teacher in order to make a more substantial impact on children's lives. The combination of his education, his previous work, and his years as a teacher make him the perfect person to care for his school's economically-disadvantaged students. Mr. L gets that just listening to a student's "bad dream" or "tall tale" means as much as anything else to a child. He understands that time invested in a child is an investment into the future. Kids will remember him actively listening, conversing, and interacting with them long after they have forgotten the classroom lessons he teaches.

On that note, his classroom lessons are top-notch. The kids are hands-on, moving, working together, playing games, and having fun, while learning at the same time. His nominator's son has come home talking about things they've tucked away into a part of their brain that has long been dusty. Things like phases of the moon, weather patterns, planets, constructing bat boxes, and habitat dioramas, among other things, are the topics his nominator has listened to their son rave about.

Mr. L is also extremely active with students outside of the school setting. He and Mrs. L, the school counselor at Washington Elementary, live close to the school and walk in the neighborhood frequently. This gives his students a chance to see him outside as a positive, available, accessible role model who advocates for health and exercise. Mr. and Mrs. L often times have students join them for walks, bike rides, and trips to the local park. Mr. L even attends events that his students invite him to, such as piano recitals and ball games.

Mr. L fosters relationships with students. He nurtures them and watches the love, time, and effort he pours into them bloom. His students transform throughout second grade, not only into better students, but more importantly, into better people. To hear Mr. L tell it, students transform because of the maturity that comes with second grade, their age, and "things all coming together" and making sense for students. These students are better because of Mr. L. His nominator is better because of Mr. L.

To quote his nominator, "If ever I knew a LifeChanger, it is 'Mr. L', second grade teacher extraordinaire!"

Comments (43)

Wendi Venable Posted over a year ago

The students that have Mr. L in their lives (whether as a teacher, an afterschool leader, or a community member) are changed for the better. Kids feel like he cares. He listens, he gently guides, he sets a wonderful example for all of our students to live up to. He is definitely in the business of changing lives and he's the perfect guy for the job! Go Mr. L!

Sam Shults Posted over a year ago

Two of my children have had the honor of having Mr. L as their teacher and I could not be more grateful. 2nd grade can be tricky but Mr. L really connects with the class and creates a group that learns and grows together. My kids left Mr. L's class excited about learning and loving going to school.

Katie Mihalevich Posted over a year ago

We just had our first parent-teacher conference with Mr. L, and I left that meeting feeling so overwhelmingly grateful that our daughter is in his class. Not only has our daughter accelerated better academically this year than any other year, she is developing a strong love for science thanks to Mr. L's thoughtful and hands-on science curriculum. Plus, he truly cares about lifting up all the students. . . Not just their reading and math, but coordinating opportunities for his students to get exposure to a variety of additional topics (motivating parents to share what they do, etc.) to help them learn that there are so many opportunities available in life to all these kiddos. He truly cares about helping them see the big picture and making their lives better. I am grateful to have this life-changer as our daughter's teacher!

KC Tucker Posted over a year ago

Go Mr. L!!!!

Jessy Burk Posted over a year ago

I was a Kindergarten aide at Washington last year and both Mr. and Mrs. L are my favorites! They are amazing with the kids. Mr. L was always patient and always positive whenever I saw him.

Danielle Weatherby Posted over a year ago

There are so many complimentary things I could say about Mr. L and his approach. But my son, who is currently in his class, said it best: “Mr. L is great at always choosing love!”

Whitney Johnston Bell Posted over a year ago

I worked with Mr. L at Washington Elementary years ago and still remember his kind presence at school. Every kid knew and loved him regardless of who their classroom teacher was. I remember him always being full of patience, empathy, and understanding. He treats his students with deep respect and care that empowers them.

Whitney Johnston Bell Posted over a year ago

I worked with Mr. L at Washington Elementary years ago and still remember his kind presence at school. Every kid knew and loved him regardless of who their classroom teacher was. I remember him always being full of patience, empathy, and understanding. He treats his students with deep respect and care that empowers them.

Kelli Doss Posted over a year ago

He is such a solid person. We are so happy to have him be a part of our daughter's lives.

Amy Farmer Posted over a year ago

My daughter had Mr. l. many years ago, and I am thrilled he is nominated for this award. Mr. l. Not only educates, but he models dignity and compassion in a world where that is often lacking. Developing the whole person and teaching compassion and respect is why Mr. l. Is not only an educator but a life changer. Congratulations on the nomination and well deserved!

Mignonne Scarbrough Posted over a year ago

I've worked with Mr. L for twn years--his patience with students is amazing. He's a fabulous role model for students because of his kindness and high standards. He was my daughter's teacher and she loved him!

Leanna Jackson Posted over a year ago

Me. L is an awesome teacher and one I strive to be. He is definitely a shining star and makes it very well known that he is a teacher that is there for the children and loves every single one. Way to go Chad!!

Kristi Button Posted over a year ago

Chad, Mr. L, was the best thing that ever happened to my son at Washington. He had a very rough time after our move adjusting to the new place and new friends. Mr. L was a teacher who really "got" my son at a time when he needed to be understood. It was his best year at Washington.

Iris Shepard Posted over a year ago

Mr. L was an incredible influence in my son William's education. William, now in 11th grade, struggled with reading on grade level. Mr. L recognized his struggle early and got him extra help with a reading specialist. We still love seeing Mr and Mrs L out on their walks in the neighborhood.

Jenny Gammill Posted over a year ago

We always talk about developing the whole child in education but to actually carry out that task is incredibly difficult.Yet, Chad does it with much grace...year after year after year. Chad has such a passion and heart for what he does and his commitment to his students is so inspiring to me!

Lee Esmond Posted over a year ago

Mr. L is that legendary teacher that kids dream about leading up to 2nd grade "I hope I get Mr. L. he makes learning fun and he wears a tool belt and chaccos". Sadly, we didn't get Mr. L - we got "the other one" he took his kids out to the garden to learn about science, the other kept the kids in the classroom and show them a video. Even as a Mom I felt disappointed - like my kid was missing out on something super special. Two years later he started teaching an after-school "sports camp" program. She was so excited every to stay after school and do sports - this is NOT my child's strong suit or interest. Upon picking her up one day I said "what is so magical about Mr. L.?" "MOM! are you kidding? He knows everything! and he makes playing and learning the same thing and if you are in trouble you know he's one of those helpers you taught me about. He doesn't get mad even when you do something dumb, He's kind and understands that sometimes kids do dumb stuff. Plus he lets us get dirty and touch the rocks in the creek and frogs and he's not like an uptight adult. And Mom - when he listens to you-you know he's really hearing you. He makes me feel important plus he taught me how to throw a frisbee". I smile whenever I think about that car ride home and that conversation. Flash forward two more years - we are firmly entrenched in the "too cool for you" tween phase of growing up.. .but she sees Mr. L while in the store and is immediately bedazzled! She wants to talk and share and just be in his light. I have no doubt when she comes home from college during the holidays in many years - she will act the same way. He has a way about him that makes you instantly feel welcomed, cared for and valued. We should all be so lucky as to have a Mr. L in our life at any stage but the impact he has at this early phase of education and personal development is truly a blessing for all who are in his sphere. He personifies "Life Changer".

Liz Molesso Posted over a year ago

My daughter had Mr. Lechtenberger when she was at Washington Elementary twelve years ago. She remembers him as a teacher with a calming, steady influence who nurtured creativity and who made every kid feel welcomed and valued. We appreciate the special contribution Chad made in our daughter's life.

Rebecca Liles Posted over a year ago

Mr. L was the very first person that we met at Washington Elementary when our older son, Wyatt, started kindergarten there. He was warm and helpful right from the start, and any anxieties that we had about our child starting elementary school instantly vanished. Wyatt had Mr. L as one of his after-school club facilitators last year, and absolutely loved learning from him. While he was never Wyatt's classroom teacher, Mr. L seems to have a personal relationship with all of the kids in that school, and everyone adores and respects him. He is an amazing asset to the school and our community, and Wyatt even loves it when we catch a glimpse of him and Mrs. L out walking their dogs around town!

Gray Grisham Posted over a year ago

Amazingly kind person! He greets me every morning with a smile and kind words

Sage Billig Posted over a year ago

We felt so lucky to have Ari in Mr L's class!

Angie Coleman Posted over a year ago

Mr. L finds a way to connect individually with each child. My older daughter is loud, sarcastic and funny and my younger one is quiet and introspective. He picked up on their different personalities even before they were in his classroom because of his involvement throughout the school. Mr. L beams with joy and pride of each his students and that energy is contagious and lifechanging.

Betty Posted over a year ago

Chad is a great teacher. He loves the kids and it shows by the way the kids respond to him. He always has time to listen and be honest with his responses. If he can help a kid or family, he will do it.

Christine Hartman Posted over a year ago

Mr. L is an amazing teacher who really invests a lot of energy and time into his classroom. My 8th grade daughter had him as a 2nd grade teacher, and she still talks about him to this day! He has really made an impact on her life and the lives of all the children who have gone through his classroom.

Amber Higgins Posted over a year ago

My daughter had Mr L for a teacher and we can not say enough good things about him. He always has a positive attitude and has creative ways of reaching children.

Ruth Mobley Posted over a year ago

Chad is an amazing teacher who cares about all of his students. He is the kind of educator that you want your own children to have. He finds the positive in each of his students and helps them to develop their best self. He makes a difference in each of their lives.

Erin Burton Posted over a year ago

Mr. L taught my son Pablo this year in second grade. I can honestly say, with no exaggeration, that Pablo will be a better man because of having spent a year with this incredible teacher. I'm not sure which memory will stand out as Pablo's favorite of Mr. L. Maybe the Saturday that Mr. L met up with the class for a bike ride or the Saturday that he rode fifteen miles away to watch Pablo play soccer. It might be the democracy unit that involved campaigning for "programs," such as an extra recess or movie and popcorn, then voting at an electronic polling station, and then actually following through with the democratically chosen activity. And constructing bat boxes was a once in a lifetime experience as well. But for me the biggest contribution Mr. L made to Pablo's education was a collection of thousands of little gestures. The small affirmations given to all the children every day added up. The high fives and hugs every morning gave them a lift. And already I have seen Pablo trying to emulate the quiet dignity that Mr. L brought to his work all year long. I know I have been inspired as well. Probably the best plug for Mr. L came from one of my son's classmates. There was a week or so left of school when I asked if he was excited about the summer break. "No," he said, "I love my teacher so much I would be happy to just go to school all summer." Pretty high praise from an eight-year-old!

Jennifer Lechtenberger Johnson Posted over a year ago


Jennifer Neumayer Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. L for ten years. He was also my daughter's second grade teacher. As a parent and a teacher, I am constantly impressed and amazed by the way he relates to his students. Mr. L empowers students with his kindness and caring. He inspires ME to be a better person and he does the same for every child who is lucky enough to learn from him!

Synetra Morris Posted over a year ago

I had the pleasure of watching in astonishment at this man model, mold and empower little people as well as myself. I in my 21 years as an educator was absolutely blessed to work with and for this man. He is professional, personable, kind and calming. He not only does this as a teacher he also does it as a community member and more so as a husband and dad. In m y 5 glorious years with him as his administrator I never had to worry if he was loving, if he was teaching, if he was willing, if he was a team player or if he lead with integrity. Mr. L is one of the best if not the best I have seen, heard of or had the pleasure to work for.

Gary Waddell Posted over a year ago

I went to high school and played football with Chad 150 years ago. He always had a smile on his face and a great attitude, which lifted those around him. I can' say that I'm surprised that he has been nominated for this award. Congratulations "Mr. L"!

Betty Arambel Posted over a year ago

Mr L goes above and beyond for the students in our district. His love for the kids shows by the way he talks, disciplines and teaches his students. His calm and friendly attitude is always pleasant to be around!

Erin Wilson Posted over a year ago

Mr. L knows both my children and has been a good influence in their lives as students though neither of my kids have been in his homeroom class. He is a warm, compassionate, and loving person and a huge asset to the Washington Elementary Family.

Melissa Werner Posted over a year ago

Mr. L was my son's 2nd Grade teacher. He is now 10 and will be starting 5th Grade this fall. Back in May, we were watching TV and a commercial came on for Teacher Appreciation Week in which actor Mark Wahlberg noted who his most inspirational teacher was and why. I asked my son, Hayden, who he thought his most inspirational teacher was and why and he said, "Mr. L because he helped me have fun and learn, but stay calm." And he is right. Mr. Ls style and approach worked exceptionally well for him. In his class, Hayden had fun learning and was able to channel his energy in appropriate ways. Hayden isn't the most studious child and I know most teachers don't consider him a "model student" in terms of his behavior, but with Mr. L he felt highly valued and appreciated: not disruptive or troublesome. That year, I watched my son's self-confidence grow. He was happy and more sure of himself and his abilities. It was life changing. From what I can tell, my son's experience is not unique: all students in Mr. Ls class feel highly valued, appreciated, and respected, because they are. As a teacher, he genuinely connects with each and every student and enjoys them. He has fun and they do too. He brightens their days and their lives. Students who are lucky enough to have Mr. L as their teacher remember him. He has a gift and is definitely a LifeChanger.

Mark Johnson Posted over a year ago

Life Changer! Few people you meet can gain this respect. He dose it.

Crystal Posted over a year ago

Both of my children had Mr.L. They both, as most children, had their different sets of challenges and Mr. L was able to meet both of them where they were and nourish them into more confident, secure students, and encouraged in them a love for school that no teacher before him had accomplished. Not only did he do this for my two kiddos, but I witnessed him plant seeds of compassion, kindness, and strength in every child in his class.

Bob Powell Posted over a year ago

I've known Chad since he was in his teens and he is the same then as he is now . Chad is and always be a will be a a Life Changer , one of the Finest people I've had the privilege to know !

Hannah Savage Posted over a year ago

Mr. L Was a LifeChanger for both of my girls and they are better learners and people because of his influence in the classroom. They are both still amazed at his ability to reach even the toughest kids and to get a really loud classroom settled down and ready to learn without ever raising his voice. He is a gem and such an asset to our school! His work far exceeds the classroom and the impression he leaves on the lives he touches is everlasting!

Clara Posted over a year ago

Way to go Uncle Chad!

Susan Strawn Posted over a year ago

Hope you win, Chad!!

Riqua Serebreni Posted over a year ago

I have known Mr L for over 20 years and his understanding and compassion toward others continues to grow. How fortunate are his students to be introduced to learning by such a gifted and caring person.

Myrna Martin Posted over a year ago

It's obvious that he has a great rapport with his students & understands & cares about them!

Savvy eubanks Posted over a year ago

He's got my vote!!

Brooke Wing Posted over a year ago

An amazing individual who is an inspiration to others!