LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Margie McElyea

Position: Counselor
School: Our Lady of Refuge School
School District: Our Lady of Refuge School
City, State: Orchard Lake, MI

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Margie McElyea was nominated by a colleague, Denny Rapal.

Education is not just about providing students with knowledge.  Education is about meeting the needs of the whole child, both academically and personally.  Such an awesome responsibility requires more than a single teacher can provide. 

"We at Our Lady of Refuge are blessed to have someone like Mrs. McElyea on our staff to be that additional person.  As a counselor, she not only helps our 8th grade students successfully transition from our school to their next institution of higher learning, but she provides every student with academic and personal help, navigating their way from preschool through eighth grade and beyond," Rapal said.

When a staff member is in need of a sounding board, Mrs. McElyea is the first person to whom they turn.  If she doesn't have an answer from her previous years in the building, she successfully points them in the proper direction, or better yet, finds the answer for them.  When a parent needs support , she is the first to lend that compassionate ear and connect them with whatever resources will be beneficial.  When administration needs someone to step in, she's right there with her sleeves rolled up and hair pulled back to be the consummate teammate.

"All you need to do is ask those she has impacted, and it's immediately clear that what she does goes well beyond her office door or the walls of her building.  She literally changes lives," Rapal said.



Comments (12)


Joseph Prezzato Posted 8 months ago

Our Lady of Refuge is truly blessed to have Mrs. McElyea guiding our children. She is truly an asset to everyone at OLR. Mrs. McElyea loves her job and genuinely cares about each of our children. She is not just focused on academics but gets to know the children on a personal level and guides them through the challenges they face. I cannot think of anyone else that is more deserving of this award at OLR.

Margaret Shamoun Posted 8 months ago

Margie should be the face of Our Lady of Refuge. Her passion & dedication to every student is immeasurable!! She exudes a loving & caring spirit, she is knowledgeable in everything she does. I consider her to be one of the most influential people I’ve ever met. My children were lucky to have her as their counselor & mentor & I feel incredibly lucky to call her a friend. She dives in head first whenever a child or family is in need. She went above & beyond when a Refuge family suffered a tragic loss recently. Had it not been for Margie, the family would have been lost!! We love & admire Margie. She is a remarkable person & our school community is incredibly lucky to have her. ??

Tara Mulvany Posted 8 months ago

Mrs. McElyea is an amazing person and works so hard to ensure that our school is a safe place for students. She has created a rapport with the students where they all feel safe to go to her to help them solve problems. She always has the interests of the students at heart, and I truly believe she has saved lives.

Majida Bacall Posted 8 months ago

Mrs. McElyea is a wonderful person she is loving caring great at what she does , takes her Job to the heart love her .

Samantha Kassab Posted 8 months ago

Mrs. McElyea is truly deserving of this award! I only met her at the beginning of this school year and it didn’t take long to recognize that she is a special human. Before meeting Mrs. McElyea or even knowing who she was or what her role at OLR was, my 3 year old son, Gabriel, came home from school and told me that a very nice lady helped him stop crying at school. The next day, he pointed her out. I then asked my sons preschool teacher how Gabriel knew her and what her role was. I was informed that Gabriel was having a hard time adjusting to his new preschool routine and would begin crying as soon as it was nap time. In order to allow the other kids to sleep soundly, his teacher would take him in the hallway to quiet him down. That is when he met Mrs. McElyea, whose office is near the 3 pre k classroom. After hearing Gabriel crying in the hallway, she approached to see what was going on and then took time out of her day and allowed Gabriel to sit in her office during nap time, comforting him and helping him through the transition. She did this several times in the weeks coming, until he eventually adjusted. He still talks about her all the time, and greets her with a big smile when he sees her. This small gesture made a huge impact on my 3 year old during his first few weeks of school and it is something that did not go unnoticed. We are blessed to have someone so caring and compassionate at OLR!

Rachel Savaya Posted 8 months ago

Mrs. McElyea, is caring positive and warm person that sincerely cares for our children. She always has a smile on her face and encouraging words.

Cindy Ciura Posted 8 months ago

As a parent of a student that has interacted with Mrs McElyea for the entire time my daughter Alex Hafley has been at Our Lady of Refuge, I agree with Mr Rupal she is a shining example of this award

Angela Poota Posted 8 months ago

I ve know Margie for about 9 years now since my oldest daughter started at Refuge. She has always been an excellent support in so many ways. She is a wonderful person and mentor. She truly cares and works to solve problems or incidents that occur in the classroom. She also makes students feel comfortable and at ease when handling any type of situation.

Olivia Mona Posted 8 months ago

Margie McElyea is truly the definition of lifechanger of the year!! She is not only an amazing counselor, but she is a amazing person. What she does for our kids exceeds her position as just a counselor. I am truly lucky to have had her as a counselor for my two boys and now for my daughter.

Linda Zara Posted 8 months ago

Margie is someone that all schools need in their building. She is kind, funny, smart, warm and welcoming. She is always making sure that every kid is happy and safe. As a parent, I know that I can always count on Margie to help our children out in every way they need . She is always willing to help and make sure that the student feels special and important. She has something about her that makes every student and parent feel at ease because we know that she is watching over each and every student at OLR. Margie is so deserving of this award and I wish we could do more for her as a school.

Jennifer Abro Posted 8 months ago

Where do I begin! This nomination is VERY well deserved! Mrs. McElyea is the epitome of a counselor!! She ALWAYS has an answer/solution (mostly a solution) and is eager to help out! Whether it’s something as small as helping you carry boxes out of your car or as serious as your kid having a difficult time, she’s there for you AND your child!!! Mrs. McEylea is very kind and never annoyed or in a bad mood! She’s very real, sincere and it feels like you’ve known her your whole life! I am a very lucky parent have her at my kids school! Great job Mrs. McElyea!!

Mary Moriarity Posted 8 months ago

Mrs. Mcylea is the most dedicated and loyal person I have ever known. She has changed many people’s live through her work as a counselor. She goes out of her way to make sure each child and any person she interacts with that they come first. Mrs. McElyea is patient, kind and fair. It’s an honor to work with her.