LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Sara Medalen

Position: Title I Reading and Math Teacher
School: Sunnyside Elementary School
School District: Minot Public Schools
City, State: Minot, ND

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Sara Medalen was nominated by her principal, Cindy Cook.

"I've worked with Ms. Medalen for the past 19 years and have always been impressed by her passion for teaching and learning, as well as her compassion for children," said Cook. "She is an exceptional Title I teacher who has used her position to make an impact on the lives of hundreds of students and staff."

Ms. Medalen sees each child as a puzzle and lovingly brings the pieces together to create a beautiful picture. Her gift to children is that she allows them to see a glimpse of the picture and find the beauty in themselves. She empowers children by teaching them about reading, math, and how to become lifelong learners. Ms. Medalen takes time to develop positive relationships with students and respects each child’s individual needs and learning styles. She is empathetic, yet maintains high expectations for each child.

As a Title I teacher, her role includes communicating with staff frequently to discuss student concerns and progress. She works closely with teachers to coordinate interventions and is highly respected by staff and parents. She is continually working to create a caring, respectful environment by modeling the behaviors that she expects from staff and students.

Ms. Medalen is always willing to try something new or spend the extra time in order to make a connection with students. Her latest adventure is opening a shop called "Books and Braids."  She has been a CLC tutor for many years and has recently created a morning reading group. Children can make an appointment to see her in her “shop”.  They spend several minutes reading to her while she braids their hair. This provides some tender loving care that can make any child’s day.

"Teaching is a high-energy and often stressful position, but Sara knows the value of taking care of herself," Cook said. "She is able to come to work every day ready to care for others because she takes care of herself. She models a healthy lifestyle for others by spending time teaching muscle pump class, enjoying time with friends and valuing the moments with her family. It is a privilege to nominate Sara for this award."



Comments (2)


Jessica Gigante Posted 3 months ago

Sara's work with Sunnyside Girl Power is changing the lives in both the US and in Haiti. Sara's work is helping her students recognize their own worth, their ability to help others, and is also providing them with global learning opportunities. After learning that girls in Haiti do not always have the opportunity to attend school, Sara and her girls reached out to my organization, Building Hope In Haiti, to see how they could make a difference. With an initial goal of raising money to send two girls to school, Sunnyside Girl Power worked together and blew the top off their goal, raising enough to send EIGHT Haitian girls living in extreme poverty to school! They are giving hope to others in desperate need, while discovering their own inner power at the same time. This is all thanks to Sara and her compassionate heart. Sara even has plans to travel to Haiti to meet the students that her group is sponsoring! She is an amazing educator who is changing lives around the world.

Heather Cymbaluk Posted 3 months ago

Minot is very lucky to have Sara as a valuable leader to the children in our community. In my role as Executive Director for Companions for Children - Youth Mentoring, I have had the pleasure of knowing Sara for nearly two years as a volunteer. Sara volunteers her free-time to mentor a young girl our community-based mentoring program. Since being matched in August 2017, Sara has never missed an outing with her mentee and they typically spend more than the required monthly hours together. They bake cookies, bell ring for the Salvation Army, rock climb at the YMCA, and much more! In addition, Sara has recently volunteered more of her free-time and joined our fundraising team to seek donations for our annual fundraiser, which last year, raised nearly $50,000 to support our community-based and school-based youth mentoring programs. Not only is Sara a valuable volunteer for our organization, she is genuinely a great person. She has an amazing attitude about life which which really rubs off on those she is around. She is smart, kind, outgoing and passionate - all reasons why she deserves the title of life changer of the year! Thank you, Sara.