Position: Fourth Grade Teacher
School: Russell Elementary School
School District: Missoula County Public Schools
City, State: Missoula, MT
Music that Describes Sandy
Sandy Whatman was nominated by Kelly Racela, the parent of a student.
"As I stood in the cold watching my son play extracurricular hockey, I saw a friendly wave in the distance. Mrs. Sandy Whatman had arrived at the rink after a long day of teaching at my son's elementary school," said Racela. "At the time, my son was a 3rd grade student at Russell Elementary in Missoula, MT. We had no way of knowing that the following year, my son would benefit and thrive under the nurturing leadership of Mrs. Sandy Whatman as his 4th grade teacher. On this late, cold night, Mrs. Whatman was securing and building a trusting relationship with yet another Russell student."
"I know Mrs. Whatman for her intrinsically nurturing nature. As a parent in the building, I have witnessed Mrs. Whatman crawling on the floor on her hands and knees to go in to a safe 'break space' to further understand how she can support a student having a difficult day," said Racela. "Students know Mrs. Whatman to be fair and understanding. Parents know Mrs. Whatman as the same: safe, sensitive, and a confidential professional who seems to know their children just as well, if not better than some parents know their own."
In the community, Mrs. Whatman hand-delivered a holiday meal to a family that otherwise may have gone without. On a separate occasion, she snuck a birthday gift into the backpack of a student who didn't need to wish anymore. As recent as the week before her nomination, Mrs. Whatman spearheaded a team effort for the Polar Plunge, raising over $800 for Special Olympics. On a regular basis, Mrs. Whatman mows the lawn of an aging neighbor, because as she mentioned..."I can do that for him."
"My son is now a 5th grade student at Russell School. During fourth grade, my son thrived! He knew that his school day was going to be filled with experiential learning, security, compassion and gratitude," said Racela. "Mrs. Whatman, a nationally certified educator, supported my son's love for learning. Not only is she an extraordinary educator, but also a human. On several occasions, I have mentioned to Mrs. Whatman that I feel strongly that she is a LifeChanger."