LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Dawn Palmer

Position: Food Services Manager
School: St. Regis Schools
School District: St. Regis Schools
City, State: St Regis, MT

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Dawn Palmer was nominated by her superintendent, Joe Steele.

In Ms. Palmer's current role, she has been recognized by the Montana Office of Public Instruction for her lunch program for several consecutive years. She ensures there are fresh fruits and vegetables available to all students for breakfast and lunch. She offers a wide variety of choices for students and staff to supplement the hot lunch program. Ms. Palmer ensures that no child goes hungry, even if they arrive at school late. She often puts together a to-go plate and delivers it to the classroom. In addition, she works closely with parents and the school nurse to develop alternative entrees for students with various food allergies. Her program has become a model for other districts, and she recently discussed her philosophy and program with a nearby school district from Idaho. To say that she excels in her official duties is an understatement. What really makes Ms. Palmer stand out, however, is her commitment to our students.

Ms. Palmer has the ability to make connections with students who struggle due to difficult family situations. These relationships have helped the most troubled students find a confidant and friend that they can go to for a listening ear and advice.

“Dawn is the person that helps me through everything. Whether it’s calming me down, so I can stay in class, or helping me figure out what my next plan of attack is, she is always there for me. Dawn is one the most loving and caring people that I know. She does so much for me and this school, and that’s why she deserves the award," said a student.

Ms. Palmer has created tracking systems to reward students she works with for exhibiting good behavior. She brings kids who are having a bad day into the kitchen to help her so she can use that time to visit with them. She talks to them honestly when they need to hear they are not behaving appropriately. Ms. Palmer shows them how to manage their frustrations, anger or attitude. In doing so, she always lets the student know that she cares for them and that she believes in their potential, but that she doesn’t like their behavior. Being forthright and loving, she is able to build strong relationships that have changed the lives of the most vulnerable students.

In addition, Ms. Palmer takes that same level of care and commitment to the young boys she works with as a basketball coach. She is not concerned about wins and losses, but focuses on character development as she works with her boys. Because she has such a strong relationship with many students, Ms. Palmer can often be found visiting with teachers about a student and letting the teacher know how to make connections, or that a student is dealing with something that could influence their behavior that day. She is also constantly checking on grades to ensure her athletes are eligible and puts forth the time and effort to assist them in getting caught up. Ms. Palmer also ensures her district's athletic teams and extracurricular programs have healthy snacks available for practice and for the long trips for contests. She goes above and beyond her normal kitchen duties to ensure students have the nutrition they need to participate fully in activities.

Ms. Palmer also conducts two community meals during the school year. The first is a breakfast on Veteran’s Day to honor her community’s veterans. This has become a schoolwide activity, with students creating posters thanking veterans, writing them letters, playing music, and creating special tributes. The second is a community Thanksgiving meal. The community is invited to attend this traditional Thanksgiving meal, often served by students, while mingling with students and staff. In addition, when the senior center had to stop serving lunches due to expenses, Ms. Palmer agreed to let the seniors eat at the school twice a month.

"In short, Dawn is the Team Mom for the school district – students and staff. Her tireless energy, positive attitude, dedication to the school district is what makes Dawn Palmer a LifeChanger at St Regis Schools," said Steele.



Comments (16)


Jeff Stanek Posted 8 months ago

The time, effort, care, and heart Dawn has put into our school is staggering. She is always willing to help students and staff in need and provides our school community with a motherly foundation that would be hard to find elsewhere. I am honored to know her and to have her as one of my teammates here at St. Regis. Thank you for all you do, especially filling my buckets up with scraps from the kitchen for my chickens!

Desiree mccoy Posted 8 months ago

thank you Dawn For teaching me to be good thank you for teaching me bad doesn't always get . what you want. Thank you for Cooking Meals for students thank you for donating money for students during Christmas thank you for your community service. Miss Down Many people love you. Miss Dawn thank you for everything you have done you help me get my life back on track you're helping me get my work back on track.You help me get my grades up. When I'm in 6th grade I'm going to be in track And that is all because of you and the people who helped me Throughout this year.I don't know how to repay anybody who helped me this year. Thank you for helping me.love Desiree

demor Posted 8 months ago

your food is really good thank you fur your food

Cheyenne riley Posted 8 months ago

thank you Mrs. Dawn for the food your the best my favrite food is pizza thank you!

Conner Lulis Posted 8 months ago

Thank you for being my school cook. :) Smiley face.

Madison Downing Posted 8 months ago

don't tell my dad but your food taste beater. i love your omelets and spaghetti.your the best and when i grow up i want to be just like you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

isaac Posted 8 months ago

Your food is the best especially your cheese burgers :)

Joseph Farris Posted 8 months ago

You rock!!!!!!!!!!Your food is so good I count the minutes until lunch.

Sherry Goins Posted 9 months ago

Dawn it has been a such a wonderful experience getting to know you. The love and encouragement you so freely give is such an inspiration. Thank you for being YOU!

Shaun Ball Posted 9 months ago

What makes Dawn so special is her loving and caring heart. Just two days ago, she had learned of a student who was about to lose a loved one. All this student wanted for Christmas was for his mother to see this "loved one" one last time. The family didn't have much resources, to purchase Christmas presents, let alone a ticket for a mother to rush down and see her loved (who lives 1000 miles away). Dawn, being the caring person she is, immediately spearheaded a campaign to help this family out, not only with Christmas presents and food for this family, but financial support to help this mother see her "loved one" one last time. As it turned out, we had a student who was spearheading the same thing, so Dawn helped support this student. The above is just one example of what Dawn does on a regular basis. Any time there is a need, she is somehow involved. In addition to this, she supports our students by giving them hair cuts, providing food baskets, making meals for our athletes (even on the weekends), mentors struggling students, and even opens up her home to students who have no where to live. Dawn is truly an amazing and selfless woman. I feel so blessed to have someone on my staff who cares as much as she does. She doesn't know this, but she inspires me to be better. I hope that one day, I can be just like Dawn. Shaun Ball (Principal of St. Regis School)

Cassie Stanek Posted 9 months ago

Wow. What a truly deserving person for this. As I read this I couldn't help but to mentally add to this already long list of all the extra things Dawn does for the students and staff at St. Regis. It makes me tear up to see that she is being recognized for all that she does. "Team Mom" is definitely fitting. Thank you for all that you do Dawn!

Anita Lebel Posted 9 months ago

The time that I worked in the lunch room with Dawn was the most rewarding time in my life. The world needs more people like her. Kind, honest and a heart of gold. No one is more deserving.

Stephanie Quick Posted 9 months ago

Dawn, You do so much more than just your required duties providing healthy meals for students. You are a fierce advocate for students and their families! Your connection to the community serves the school in so many different capacities and you always provide a friendly face when anyone comes to visit. I can't think of a better person to be nominated for all of your hard work.

Christine West Posted 9 months ago

I taught at St Regis Schools for 15 years. Dawn Palmer has been an inspiration to everyone at St Regis Schools. She arrives early each morning, cooking an amazing breakfast and lunch every single day. She goes out of her way to interact with each and every student. It is evident she loves us all. Now that I am a School Board member, I still feel the love when I stop by for lunch or say hi to her in the halls. She is a positive presence and an amazing role model to the St Regis School District.

Kim Crostick Posted 9 months ago

I was amazed at the lunches that Dawn serves I came from Colorado and have never seen a school that serves the fresh food as she does. Dawn has also helped me with several of my students to help them get back on track by allowing the students to help serve meals. The students love to help her and they ask everyday if they could ask to help but they must be caught up on their work. Thank you Dawn as you have made a difference in so many lives.

Donna Booker Posted 9 months ago

I don’t even know where to start , I trusely do not know what our school would do with out DAWN, This is the most caring and supportive person I have even know. I KNOW that my family could not do without her. My grandson is one of her crowning achievements. He knows she is one person at the school who will always have his back. She will put him in his place if needed and cry with him at the next second. And he is just one of the many, We are true lay blessed to have such a wonderful carding person at our school who will go the extra mile to help ALL OF OUR KIDS, We love you DAWN PALMER.