LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Teresa Klatka

Position: Fifth/Sixth Grade Counselor
School: Eastside Elementary School
School District: Sweetwater County School District #1
City, State: Rock Springs, WY

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Teresa Klatka was nominated by board trustee Max Mickelson.

Mrs. Klatka is an outstanding counselor. She consistently exhibits extraordinary dedication to her students, school, district, and community

Mrs. Klatka is always looking for novel ways to reach her students and impact them. She developed and runs a program exchanging letters and goods with students in Poland. This helps her teach empathy and diversity while bringing in students who are disinclined to engage with a counselor. Using methods like this, she is able to benefit a broader cohort than typically identified as needing counseling. 

Although Eastside Elementary is located in a small rural community, students present with many issues, and the school lacks even minimal resources to address these issues. For many years, Mrs. Klatka has worked tirelessly to reach her students with resources she cultivates or personally provides. Whether building a relationship with a particular student, working with a teacher on developing trauma-informed instructional skills, or ensuring children in need have Christmas gifts, she never stops looking for a way to improve her school and student outcomes. 

She is equally open to learning from her peers and pushing them to expand their ability to reach students. Mrs. Klatka helps her colleagues see new avenues for helping children, both in monthly meetings and through ongoing conversations. She is a driving force in her school and district for positive student growth. 

In her school, she actively creates a culture where self-regulation and positive appropriate emotional expression are norms. This promotes not only the individual development of students, but the overall educational environment. Her example serves as a driver for her peers. 

Mrs. Klatka has repeatedly demonstrated the highest commitment to moral and ethical standards. She has a strong internal structure of morals and ethics. It pushes her, not only to continuously seek new ways to reach her students, but to speak up if she believes an injustice has occurred. 

Recently, Mrs. Klatka's principal left under less than ideal circumstances. She repeatedly spoke passionately, professionally, and appropriately to the superintendent and board about her concerns for how his removal was handled and its impact on her peers and students. She displayed courage and strength to express her convictions under significant pressure to stay silent. 

"Our little corner of this country is often overlooked when opportunities for recognition are available. We're small, rural, and somewhat disconnected," said Mickelson. "Regardless of the outcome, I hope you've heard how fortunate we are to have a counselor of this caliber working to help all students become successful, emotionally sound citizens."

Comments (1)

Zofia Rybkowski Posted over a year ago

What a beautiful testament to a remarkable counselor and human being. It speaks well not only for Mrs. Klatka, but also for the recommender, Max Michelson. It shows what we do and say matters. It has an impact.