LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Laura Klein

Position: Special Education Teacher
School: Frontier Middle School
School District: Frontier Central School District
City, State: Hamburg , NY

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Laura Klein was nominated by her colleague, Amber Chandler.

Mrs. Klein is an invisible force. You have to literally investigate to find out how she's orchestrating entire fundraisers, supporting students who are also hiding from the spotlight, and forming relationships with those hardest to get to know. She's behind the scenes, clearing the path for others' success while taking none of the credit.

"She's so good at this ability to make things happen while simultaneously spotlighting others that she is oftentimes overlooked, leaving her exactly where she wants to be: in the shadows. However, I've been lucky enough to work with Laura for the last several years, and she can't hide from me!" said Chandler.

This year, in her role as Student Council Advisor, she has already orchestrated a number of initiatives, including

  • her school's very first "Socktober" event (collecting 450 pairs of socks for the homeless);
  • raising $175 for a student who is doing his first ever Polar Plunge, and
  • running out of snowflakes for the "snowflake flurry" to raise money for the Giving Tree that she also helps organize.

She promotes school spirit--again, from the shadows, by organizing Halloween costume contests, encourgaing everyone to wear red, white, and blue to support local sports teams, and helping plan most of the school dances.

"The only way I can keep up with all the amazing things Laura is planning is by following the Student Council Twitter feed," said Chandler. "Getting credit is not why Laura does what she does. She does what she does because that is just who Laura is."

The thing about Mrs. Klein is you never see her stressing out about all of the events she is pulling off. She works tirelessly, quietly, and humbly, always bringing out the best in others. As a co-teacher, she has created a learning environment where students can be real with her and each other. She's so kind, compassionate, and ready to speak freely with students to encourage them on their life journeys, not just as a teacher. 

Mrs. Klein's students never leave her. She has been invited to former students' weddings and baby showers. One student literally credited Mrs. Klein for saving her life because she had no doubt that Mrs Klein loved her. In the course of a career, most of us have a few students who remember us, if we are lucky. Mrs. Klein's always do. 

"A real LifeChanger is someone who makes it about the other people, allowing Laura Klein to be invisible in plain site," said Chandler. "I hope that this award would allow her, for once, to feel the way she makes others feel every day."

Comments (56)

Mary Opiela Posted 5 months ago

I have had the pleasure of working with Laura Klein. She is a treasure. She is extrodinary at making you feel included and needed and inspired me to make a be a better person. It does not matter how old you are or how popular or how smart you are, she seeks out what makes you special and finds a way to show you. It might be through a project or a game or something social...but once you see yourself through her eyes you realize you are important and you do matter! Thank you Laura for always making me as well as the students we taught together feel so good about who we are!

Patti Jo Hicks Posted 5 months ago

I had the good fortune to meet Laura nearly 20 years years ago through her mother, Sharon, who is a colleague of mine and also a wonderful person & great humanitarian (Laura had a great teacher and mentor!) Laura became involved in supporting the WAIT House homeless youth shelter in Glens Falls, NY that I was actively involved with - when it was merely a community Task Force rather than the well established, thriving program it is today. The long standing annual WAIT House fundraiser was Laura’s brainchild - and her foresight has served the agency well, raising many thousands of dollars for the cause. And even more importantly, Laura makes the 5 hour trek from Buffalo to volunteer at the event every year - AND brings at least one basket to contribute to the raffle. Her generosity, her willingness to help, her never ending energy, and her warm demeanor have endeared her to me, among many others. I am impressed with all she juggles - personally/family wise, professionally and within her community - and beyond! I also have had the opportunity and privilege to know Laura within the context of her family - and admire the dedication she demonstrates to her mom five hours away. From my perspective, she is the kind of daughter anyone would be proud to have. Her school, community and family are lucky and blessed to have Laura Klein amidst them!

Duane Vaughn Posted 5 months ago

When someone gives so much of their time and energy in their own community and then selflessly reaches past those boundaries to help other communities in need, you know that person is special. Hundreds of miles away from where Laura lives and works, Laura became involved in assisting a small group of caring citizens to write an important grant to support a homeless shelter for youth in Glens Falls NY. That grant paved the way to start what eventually became the WAIT House. It has been over 15 years since the doors have opened at the WAIT House and so many young people have been sheltered. Laura's commitment didn't stop there. She was instrumental is bringing an idea forward for the WAIT House's signature fundraiser which in turn, has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars. In my 14 years as Executive Director of the WAIT House, I would see Laura at so many of our events plugging away at tasks, giving hours upon hours of dedicated service for the greater good of our community. Laura's caring smile was, and still is a welcoming site. Our community is grateful to have her hard working visits.

Amy Cristiano Posted 5 months ago

Laura is an amazing teacher and friend. I have had the pleasure of working with Laura for several years. She has always been an inspiration for me. Laura is one of the most passionate and caring individuals you will ever meet. She has a heart of gold. She will do anything she can for her students, colleagues and friends. She always has her students best interest at heart. Wherever Laura is she makes a positive impact on your life. She sees the good in every student and always makes connections with those students that seem to be “lost”. Laura is an asset to FMS and our community. Laura is definitely a life changer in so many ways.

Hayley Posted 5 months ago

Mrs Klein is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever met. She is very positive and always has a smile on her face. She is always there helping students and her coworkers out. She is always willing to help anyone in need and making FMS a better place to learn. Mrs Klein is consistently organizing new events for the school that benefits others. She has helped me out so much with school this year with me being so nervous for tests and quizzes and I am really thankful for her. Mrs Klein really is a Life Changer!

Sydney Etopio Posted 5 months ago

Laura is the mother of a good friend of mine. Years ago, I was having family troubles and personal mental problems. One day, I was in a particularly awful spot in my life and I reached out to Laura's daughter. I remember Laura drove to my house to take me to her house and make sure I was calmed down and fed. I don't know if she remembers this, but I most certainly do. It made me feel comforted and loved. It was of no personal gain to herself, it was from the goodness of her heart. That act of kindness meant so much to me, and I hope it shows just how good of a person Laura Klein is.

Katherine Klein Posted 5 months ago

My mom is the best person I know. She is everything I want to be when I grow up. She is an amazing teacher, mother, and friend. Being a young adult myself I am finally realizing that my mom is a key part of her community. She runs dances and donations for her school and somehow makes being surrounded by hundreds of middle school kids look easy. Trust me, it’s not. She encouraged me through ever hobby I have followed. Some examples being soccer, gymnastics, dance, tae kwon do, photography, culinary, singing, acting, and much more. She had done the same for my younger brother in his baseball, hockey, track, cross country, singing, and much more. Earlier this year my brother was diagnosed with diabetes. It was a difficult time that forced our family to make many changes extremely fast. Even though it was hard for her, my mom became our rock. She was there for us and helped my brother figure out all the pieces necessary to keep him healthy. My mom has always but everyone else before herself. She would move her schedule around to drive me to work go to one of my brothers games or support me at a school event. She is it only my mom, but my best friend. I don’t know what I could do without her. She is my rock. She is everything I wish I could be and more. Many people my age (17) are distant with their mothers. I, am not. She is my world. Thanks to her, I grew up in a loving household and learned to always treat the people around you with respect and kindness. All of my friends consider her their mom. She taught me everything I know. I try to make her proud everyday although anything I do is perfect for her. My mom is indeed a life changer and I truly hope this shows her that we all do care and could not do with out her. Thank you for everything mom.??

Amya G. Posted 5 months ago

I was lucky enough to have Mrs. Klein as a teacher this year. She has helped me through all the bad things that have happened to me this year. She is always there for me if I ever need to talk, cry, or just need a laugh. She cares about everyone and will try to help in any way that she can. She is always happy, even when she is having a bad day she will pretend that she is having a good day to make others happy. She will always make time for you if you need it. I have never met someone as nice as Mrs. Klein. She is a super loving person and I am so lucky that I got to have her in my life!!!!

Trent Posted 5 months ago

I've always told people my sister was the nicest person I've ever known. In our own family bubble, I guess I wondered if I was the only one who felt that way but, reading the comments here, that's obviously not the case. My sister was awarded the volunteer of the year for her senior class in high school, so giving of herself for others started extremely young. She's always put the best interest of the people in her orbit in the forefront. Whether it be her family, friends, colleagues, students, or strangers, she is constantly seeking out opportunities to enhance the lives of other people. No one is more deserving of this honor. But even if she does not win, it will never diminish her impact, for she's never sought out the recognition she so truly deserves. That's what true altruism is all about. And that's what my sister embodies.

Marcia Lewis Posted 5 months ago

I have been blessed with Laura as a friend and colleague for many years. She is never afraid to go that extra mile for any child; be it her own student, another child in our district, or even a child in our community who is in need of some type of assistance and/or service. She tries to stay upbeat during some quite trying times and I think that she is a perfect nominee for this award!

Sheryl Zielonka Posted 5 months ago

There is nothing this educator friend wouldn't do. She treats everyone like family and gives heart and soul. Laura inspires everyone she meets and encourages them to do the best.She most definately deserves this award.

Anne Fuller Posted 5 months ago

I recently retired from WAIT House(an emergency shelter for homeless youth in Glens Falls, NY) and during my 11 years there Laura was an enthusiastic supporter of our Pizza, Wings and Baskets of Things fundraising event. Even though she lives in Western NY she attended many times and even volunteered at the event. Her "Buffalo Bites" basket, which was filled with yummy foods from the Buffalo area, was very popular, Even though her Mom, the chair of the event, got her involved in supporting WAIT House, her care and concern for all young people, no matter where they were, was very evident. She is a warm-hearted, kind and loving person and I am sure that she has been instrumental in inspiring young people to be the best they can be.

Joann Mis Posted 5 months ago

Laura Klein is one of the "unsung heroes" of our school community. Because of her humble way of approaching all of the activities and fundraisers here at our building. She has taught empathy and compassion to the students in our school. In her humble way she gently reminds her colleagues to do the same. She is truly "A real LifeChanger" in her commitment to our kids her at Frontier Middle school and the Frontier community in general. She truly treats every child with the dignity and respect they deserve.

Bill Gallagher Posted 5 months ago

Laura is such a caring teacher and person to any and all students. She is always willing to help anyone in need and makes FMS a special place to learn. Laura is so much more than a teacher. She makes a difference in the life of all those around her. Kids are lucky to have someone so willing to make a difference and teachers who work with her feel the same way!!

Jennifer Betz Posted 5 months ago

Laura Klein is extremely passionate about her students and school community. She’s always striving to make Frontier Middle School a better place for both the students and staff. If someone comes to her with an idea, she always finds a way to make it happen. Laura is an asset to our school. I am proud to call her my coworker and even more, a friend.

Nicole Phillips Posted 5 months ago

Laura is the teacher who is always positive. She greets students, colleagues and staff with a smile. She juggles many different school functions and never complains. It is obvious that her strength and dedication are directly related to the good she sees and does for the students at Frontier Central School. We are so lucky to have her.

Eileen slisz Posted 5 months ago

Awesome Mom and awesome teacher!!!

Tricia Applegate Posted 5 months ago

Laura is an amazing teacher, but an even better person. Our school is so lucky to have her. She puts her heart & soul into everything she does!!

Jen Ruggieri Posted 5 months ago

Laura is a wonderful caring teacher and has all of her students best interests at heart. I was blessed to work with her for several years.

Lisa Sutton Posted 5 months ago

I’m so glad I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know Laura these past two years! We took a class together last year and this year we are on our Executive Committee for our Union. Laura is so down to earth and friendly. It was easy to become friends! She is always a voice of reason during discussions about issues. I’m so lucky to call her a friend!

Jen Ungaro Posted 5 months ago

Laura Klein truly exemplifies what it means to care about others. She is passionately involved in countless school activities and leads numerous student initiatives. She devotes her time and her energy into all things school! The theme that ties all that she does together is her unwavering commitment to do what's right for kids. She is, without a doubt, most deserving of this award. Laura is a teacher, a colleague, a friend, and a life changer.

Carol Gath Posted 5 months ago

There is rarely a time at FMS when there is not a fundraiser or celebration being planned or executed with the direction or help of Laura Klein. Her positive and seemingly limitless energy is a blessing to our school environment, the students she lovingly fosters on their paths, and the adults in the building who walk away from a conversation with her with any help she can give and a smile. Love you, Laura, you are truly an inspiration to me; a LifeChanger to so many.

Amanda Posted 5 months ago

She is amazing and does a fantastic job with everything she does!

Adam N Posted 5 months ago

Mrs.Klein is one of my teachers this year and is one of the kindest people I think I have ever met. She is always so happy and always has a smile on her face. She is always helping my fellow students not by pointing out everything they have done wrong, but showing them what they could do better. Even though this is the first year that she is one of my teachers, I have worked with her for 2 years through student council. Mrs.Klein has been an advisor for my school's student council for a while. She is always organizing new events that benefit others. She has organized 2 Bald for Bucks events to help Roswell cancer institute. Recently she ran the schools snowflake flurry and giving tree to help families from our school put gifts underneath their Christmas tree. Mrs.Klein is always willing to help others and has such a huge heart. She is a very special person that I am so lucky to have met.

Becky Smith Posted 5 months ago

I am Lauren Roloson’s mom and I will say that Laura Klein is a wonderful person! Without her I wouldn’t have my daughter,and my best friend, here today. Thank you Laura for all the lives you have and continue to touch. This world is so much better because of you!!!

Maureen Comerford Posted 5 months ago

Amber’s characterization of Laura is well stated and “spot on!” Laura is an exceptional person and an extraordinary teacher. As a colleague of mine, I was always in awe of her uncanny ability to “connect” with kids. She empowers and motivates her students to follow their dreams, especially showing “lost kids” the way. Laura’s big heart, high energy and passion brings a love of learning to her classroom. She’s a phenomenal teacher who continues to change the future for her students one day at a time. I’m truly honored and blessed to call Laura, my friend.

Lisa Nowak Posted 5 months ago

I work in the main office and Laura always steps up to help when we are short teachers. She never complains about taking on extra classes and many times giving up her free period to help us out. She is kind, funny, and a team player. We are lucky to have her.

Lindsey Kelly Posted 5 months ago

Laura Klein was one of the best teachers I’ve ever had. She always made students engage in what wasn’t always that exciting. Laura has the ability to positively impact absolutely everyone around her. Her passion and kindness allows her to stay patient with others. She will always be one teacher that I had in grade school that I will remember forever. Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me.

Candice Heffelman Posted 5 months ago

Mrs. Kline will always have a special place in my heart! She was my middle school teacher back in 2011 and we still communicate! She deserves this recognition

Deborah C Posted 5 months ago

Laura is an amazing teacher and really helps to make FMS a fun place to learn. Middle school is one of the most challenging age groups. Laura's activities help to teach the students about community and helping others instead of just thinking of themselves. Laura is definitely changing the lives of our students and helping to form a caring community.

Lauren (Smith) Roloson Posted 5 months ago

I am one of those students whose life was saved in part by Mrs. Klein. Mrs. Klein was one of my teachers in 7th grade, although technically she was only my teacher for a week before I switched math classes into an advanced class. My first interaction with her was when I went to talk to her co-teacher about switching classes on the second day of school and Mrs Klein began to joke that I wasn’t allowed to switch because she didn’t want to lose me because she loved me already. It was hard to believe that she could like me after only knowing me two days, but with her I knew she was being sincere. After that, though she wasn’t my actual teacher, she was still one of my “team” teachers through 7th and 8th grade and she maintained contact with me, always making a point to talk to me every time I saw her, that’s just the kind of person she is. 7th grade was the beginning of a very difficult period in my life, starting with the death of my grandma and continuing through the next year and a half with numerous close relatives deaths, family tragedies, illnesses and hardships. I became very depressed and withdrawn. Then one day in 8th grade as I was walking down the hall, Mrs. Klein stopped me and asked if I was really ok and told me that she loved me and was worried about me and wanted me to stay after school with her so we could just talk. She didn’t know in that moment that a few weeks prior I had nearly committed suicide and was still contemplating it every day. Mrs. Klein began staying after school with me periodically and even regularly gave up her free periods to just sit with me, sometimes talking, sometimes just playing a game, but always reminding me that I was loved and cared about. I don’t remember much of the things I learned in any of my classes in 7th or 8th grade, but what I do remember is Mrs. Klein’s love and her telling me that the world wouldn’t be the same place without me and that someday things would get better and I would go on to do wonderful things and have a family of my own and have my own opportunities to make a difference in someone’s life. And I’m happy to say she was right! Today I am 25 years old, married to a wonderful man who is a youth pastor so I regularly get to influence and make a difference in the lives of teen girls much like myself, and I have a beautiful 2 year old little girl of my own. The best part is that Mrs. Klein has evolved from my teacher to mentor to friend and has been there with me through all those important moments in my life; she was at my graduation party, she was at my engagement party, she was at my wedding, she was at my baby shower, although now that I haven’t actually been her student for over 10 years she’s always telling me I can call her Laura, but she’s definitely still Mrs. Klein. When I’m back in town visiting my parents, she’s one of the few people that I will make a point of texting and meeting up with to catch up, whether it be going back to the middle school and sitting in her classroom like old times, or ice cream at Friendly’s, we always pick up right where we left off, no matter how long it has been. I wish I could perfectly describe this woman, but I don’t know I have the words to do her justice, except that everyone should experience the joy it is to have a teacher like her. I know the world would be a much better a place if every child had a teacher like her because I know that my world became a much better place with her in it. Being her student changed my life, saved my life, saved my daughter’s life, and having her as a mentor and friend has been one of the greatest privileges and blessings.

Tina Mercado Posted 5 months ago

We were very pleased to be apart of the Bald For Bucks in memory of my mom the last two years . We raised over $35.000 last year with your help and the kids. Thank you for all you do for the kids,school and the community.

Angie Posted 5 months ago

Amazing work for the school and kids! Thank you!!

Kelly Pierino Posted 5 months ago

Mrs.Klein is my teacher this year. She is one of the best teachers i’ve ever had. She is very kind and helps me a lot in class. She is also very funny. We sometimes joke about wanting to wear pajamas at school. I am so happy to have her as a teacher.

Susan Pyne Posted 5 months ago

Congratulations! I love the beautiful tribute to this unsung hero serving our public school children quietly and humbly.

Mary Beth Ganci Posted 5 months ago

Laura was also a co-teacher of mine. She always goes above and beyond in everything she does! She does so many fundraisers and fun activities for our school and community (Make a Wish), but the one that tops all of them is "Bald for Bucks". Laura started it two years ago and got everyone so motivated that our school ended up raising the most money last year in our area. Not only is Laura an exceptional teacher, she is an amazing mom, coworker, and friend. I am blessed to know such a wonderful person.

Kathy D Posted 5 months ago

Laura is infectious in her laughter, her love of celebrating others, and making you feel like you matter, even in a room crowded with people. She is never too busy to stop in her tracks and have a warm, sincere conversation with you, all the while holding an arm-load of project supplies. If you need a hug, or a shoulder to cry on, she's there. Truly, the world needs more people like her in it.

Kevin Bettinger Posted 5 months ago

Laura is one of the most amazing teachers I have ever had the blessing of meeting. As a substitute, I am in all of the classes, from Pre-K to 12th grade High School Seniors. So, I am lucky enough to meet and see many different teachers, administrators, and most importantly students. Laura Klein is by far the most passionate, most dependable, most loyal and most caring teacher that I have ever run across. She is one of those rare people who would, without hesitation, literally take the shirt off her back in order to help out a stranger! Laura is the co-worker everyone wants to work with, the teacher I want my kids to have and the friend everyone dreams of having. She is the living version of that extraordinary, big-hearted educator who changed lives every single day. The world, our school, and my own personal life would greatly suffer without her around. Simply worded, Laura is the best!

Diane Posted 5 months ago

Laura has a special gift of positivity that everyone who she comes in contact with her students, teacher or support staff all are recipients of this gift. Her devotion and generosity transcend to her students and charities. Laura is a someone we should all aspire to be more like her. If we did the world would be a better place.

Jeanne Posted 5 months ago

Laura is a truly compassionate teacher! Our students are so fortunate to have her!

Erin Russell Posted 5 months ago

Every word is true! I had the pleasure of working side by side with Laura for many years. She is such a compassionate, hard-working, and fun teacher to work with! She goes above and beyond for the students, her friends, her colleagues and the school as a whole. FMS is such a great place to work in large part due to Laura!

Debby Schruefer Posted 5 months ago

I have had the privilege to work with Laura and have always been amazed at how much energy, effort and time she puts forth each and every day. Her positive attitude is infectious. Laura is an outstanding teacher, mom, wife and overall person.

Kim barrt Posted 5 months ago

Laura puts everyone before herself! I've asked her time and time again why do you keep doing all you do ? Should you slow down a bit? She always shrugs with the answer It makes the students happy! She strives to create a fun and spirited culture for our students ! SHE develops relationships with her students that not only helps them academically but socially and emotionally as well! She devotes countless hours outside of work on charity work and events as well. Even with all of her devotion to frontier and volunteer activities she still manages to give 110 percent to her family and friends!

Shannon Posted 5 months ago

If there is one word that encompasses Laura’s whole being, it’s compassionate. In every ounce of her life she is dedicated to making sure that her students, friends, and family are always surrounded by compassion. I’m proud to call Laura my colleague and friend. She embodies every bit of what this award is about.

Kathleen Posted 5 months ago

Laura is a wonderful asset to our school and community. It is a privilege to work with her.

Kathy Woods Posted 5 months ago

Blessed to call Laura a colleague and my friend. Always the first to volunteer to help or organize. More importantly she is the teacher that as always willing to go the extra mile for her students. Well deserved Laura!!

Julia Bermingham Posted 5 months ago

I was fortunate to work on a team with Laura and watch her interactions with students. Every child was successful in her eyes. She focused on a student’s strength and always worked to build them up from the point they were at. She’s an amazing human being and a gift to FMS.

Madi Posted 5 months ago

She was a great advisor in student council at the middle school and made sure everyone felt included and a part of the frontier family. She has managed many fundraisers and worked so hard to make them successful. She really is changing the frontier students lives.

Zoey Chandler Posted 5 months ago

Miss Klein is a life saver! She is always so accommodating to students needs and is there for whoever needs her. She is willing to work as hard as she can to get through to somebody, or to help somebody. She is truly a life changer to me. I am Glad to know her!

Tracy Wessel Gray Posted 5 months ago

Knowing Laura for nearly 3 decades now I have seen everything from her upbeat positive attitude, willingness to help others and her care and concern to make a difference in the world. I am blessed to know and love her in so many ways, all of which have Ben described and more. Laura is more than deserving of this award and thank you to the powers to be for making it happen. Whom ever comes in contact with Laura are truly blessed to be in her presence with her love for others and laughter. Congratulations, Laura! I’m so very proud of you but not one but surprised!!

Sharon Sano Posted 5 months ago

I am in awe of how much my daughter does outside of her "teacher and mom" duties. Not only has she done the above, she has been an active supporter and volunteer for Make a Wish in Western New York and WAIT House in Glens Falls, New York, (which is 5 hours from her home). She began "Bald for Bucks" at her school in hopes of raising $5,000 and raised $25,000 the first year. Last year her school was the #1 fund-raiser for "Bald of Bucks". Laura also started a fund-raising campaign to collect items for local food pantries called "Souper Bowl" in hopes of collecting 300 items and collected over 4,000 the first year and 3,000 the next. I have also seen her anonymously pay for meals for veterans when at restaurants dining with her family. I am beyond proud of her as she makes the world a better place whenever she has the opportunity.

Susan Siskar Posted 5 months ago

Amber, you did a wonderful job describing Laura Sano Klein and what she brings to the table ?? I, too, had the privilege of co-teaching with Laura and wholeheartedly agree with everything you said about her. She makes everyone feel at ease and accepted. She does so much extra and seems to do it effortlessly. Laura is definitely a life changer.

Lisa McCarthy Posted 5 months ago

Laura does so much for our students- Creating a gift giving make and take for our students to painting the student bathrooms to create positivity in every space in our building! These are just a few of the many great experiences she brings to our building. Laura is an amazing educator!

Mary Regula Posted 5 months ago

Every word of Amber Chandler’s testimony is true! Laura Klein truly is a Lifechanger!

Jennifer Hennigan Posted 5 months ago

I completely concur with this assessment of Laura’s character and effectiveness as an educator and all around amazing person! People like her need to get recognized as such as they are forming the future of this country in a loving and positive way!

Kate Posted 5 months ago

Every word is true! Mrs Klein is so dedicated, our school would be lost without her guidance.