LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Rhett Ladner

Position: Principal
School: Vancleave High School
School District: Jackson County School District
City, State: Vancleave, MS

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Music that Describes Rhett


Rhett Ladner was nominated by an anonymous colleague.

Mr. Ladner is a LifeChanger because he is a heart-changer, a mind-changer and an attitude-changer. He demonstrates daily that loving and focusing on recognizing students and staff will lead to the professional, academic, and after-graduation success that schools long for!

His relationship-building role and positive behavior has led to an improved, energetic, loving, inspired campus and an environment that changes the lives of students daily. Sometimes, it's through a personal interaction or an assertive "push." Other times, it's with just a word of encouragement.

Before moving to his current school, Mr. Ladner led his district's middle school on the journey from a "C" rating to an "A" in one year! That's the undeniable spirit he brings; a spirit that leads to change and success.  He is also nationally recognized as an Educator of the Year for Jostens Renaissance, 2017 Hall of Fame member for Jostens Renaissance, and numerous recognitions as Administrator of the Year for the schools he is serving in, as well for his district .

Mr. Ladner's commitment to his journey lives day in and day out. He is a committed, working, contributing advocate for carrying the Jostens Renaissance movement everywhere he goes. Above all, he desires to let each student know that they are seen, valued, and loved. He will pro-actively protect them, push them, and fight for them .

"Rhett sets a standard that calls for commitment, change and growth. He expects the best from his teachers so that we, as a school, can deliver the best to our kids --- morally, ethically, academically. We are their compass, and he expects a true north," said his nominator.



Comments (34)


Inez Bell Posted 8 months ago

Rhett is so deserving of this award. I worked with him at Beaumont Elem. and Perry Central High School, and his interest in the kids is not only in the school, but goes 24 hrs. a day. He is a great person!!

Lashawn moody Posted 8 months ago

Coach rhett lander is one of the best an harest principal i know he was my ol principal in elementary school were im fr which is Beaumont ms then i went to high school i was like yes new jounary new school not coach lander then was my high school principal i was like man o man he keep me in line tho thanks coach.

Hillary Ladner Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner is hands down the best principal I have ever worked for. He recognizes not only the need that students are first, he supports his teachers as well. Happy teachers make happy students. Great job Mr. Ladner!

Annie Ladner Posted 8 months ago

What you are reading about Rhett Ladner is so very true, but his life changer atttributes are not confined to VHS. I worked with Mr. Ladner for years at Hancock High School. He was a life changer there as well!

Melissa Rayborn Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner brought excitement back to the school campus. Kids had a good balance of work and play under his leadership, unlike anything they've had before and since. His infectious personality and style created an environment the children loved and changed the way kids thought about school. He not only changed the lives of the students but he also changed the way his staff viewed their role in education. As a parent I've witnessed the change in my daughter as she moved from hating school to loving it, which in turn changed the temperament in our home as well. Mr. Ladner is the epitome of a life changer and I've certainly seen it first hand as a parent and a colleague. My hat is off to him and his success at Vancleave attendance center.

Shaynon Shaw Posted 8 months ago

I had the chance to work under the leadership of Rhett at HHS, and it was a great experience. He has a way of getting through to the students. He is such a motivational leader, the students loved him. He actually takes time to listen to a student and shows them that he cares. My daughters senior year was a great one for her, and he was one of the reasons! Great man!! Very deserving of this.

Angela Sims Posted 8 months ago

Passionate and enthusiastic are words that come to mind when I think of Rhett Ladner. After hearing about and seeing what he had accomplished with the help of the everyone at Vancleave Middle School, I was excited and thankful that, as a senior, my daughter would get to have Mr. Ladner for her principal. It is very evident that he cares deeply about the students and employees under his leadership and that his care extends to the community as well. His enthusiasm is contagious and that, paired with his encouragement, is driving people to reach further and do more. I am so thankful for the impact he has had on our community, schools, and the youth of Vancleave (especially my daughter). RHETT LADNER is the epitome of a POSITIVE LIFECHANGER.

Cari Sims Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner is one of the most inspirational people I have had the privilege of encountering. He is a life changer, as well as a world changer. As his first year as principal of Vancleave High School, Mr. Ladner as completely changed the atmosphere of my school. Coming to school is now a joy instead of a dread, for student and staffulty alike. Mr. Ladner’s motto for our school this year has been “Dream Big”. I can personally say that I have never encountered someone who lives by this daily the way Mr. Ladner does. He not only encourages our school to dream big, but also each individual student. Mr. Ladner has done this in my own life. With Mr. Ladner’s help, I was able to start a community wide fundraiser to raise money to provide families in Rwanda with water filters, giving them access to clean water. We were able to provide 37 families with water filters, all thanks to Mr. Ladner’s passion for our school to “dream big”. I cannot wait to see how Mr. Ladner continues to change lives and the world.

Troy Frisbie Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner is certainly well deserving of this recognition! He is one of the most dedicated and caring individuals you would ever meet. I have never before met an educator and administrator that cares more for the students, the teachers, the staff AND his community. Mr. Ladner leads by example and goes above and beyond his duties daily and consistently challenges others and thinks "outside the box". He totally understands the connection between school and community and is always striving to bring the two together and for the better. That, in turn, makes not only better students, but better citizens - what a life changer he truly is!

Laura Barnes Posted 8 months ago

Last school year I felt like I had reached a moment that I had dreaded for years. Most people have heard of the rumor of “teacher burnout”, and let me tell you it’s real. I had taught for 8 years, and I just felt defeated on a daily basis. Rhett Ladner arrived at my school and made a change in my life. He asked me to attend Josten’s Renaissance; I will forever be grateful to him. That conference ignited a spark in my that I hope will always remain flaming. After the conference some people quickly let that flame dwindle out, but not Mr. Ladner. He made sure that our school was a place where the employees and students enjoy coming to each day. Because of him, I am a better person. Because I’m a better person, I’m a better teacher. Because I’m a better teacher there is no telling the change that can occur within the lives of my students. I’m just one small light that Mr. Ladner has ignited-imagine the spark he has created over the years! The possibilities are endless. No one deserves this more.

Sarah Badeaux Posted 8 months ago

Rhett is as genuine as they come. I’ve not only seen the everlasting impact that he has made on communities and school districts but also impacting everyone who he crosses paths with. He is a true community leader and I feel very privileged to call him a friend.

Laurie Rosas Posted 8 months ago

All I can say is Mr Ladner has impacted my life in so many ways. I started working for him when I was 41 years old. This man has such energy that’s intoxicating. His views on life, God and all children just wants to make you a better person. He supports all that’s around him he sees the good in everything. Thank you Mr Ladner for changing my life and my families. You my fiend are a LIFECHANGER. CONGRATULATIONS!!

Tracy Drzewiecki Posted 8 months ago

My son started sixth grade at Vancleave Middle School the same year Mr. Ladner signed on as principal there. They are now both at the high school together (my son is now a freshman), so they have started the school at both levels together. When my son found out that Mr. Ladner was moving to the high school with him, he was thrilled. Mr. Ladner creates so many opportunities for his student to shine and to reach for their goals. Often times, school (and school work) can seem mundane and pointless to students who may not see the big picture of how this piece of the puzzle fits in their overall lives. Mr. Ladner speaks to the students on their level, plays music and has special events that make the students feel welcome and SEEN - that means so much to a teenager. He created a house program last year so that the school as a whole could get to know other students that were not necessarily in their grades and foster a mentor/mentee environment. He facilitated both powder puff football and volleyball games which my son happily and enthusiastically engaged in - and he is not one that normally comes out of his shell for that kind of thing. He fosters a sense of community by creating events such as "Christmas in the Cleve" and back to school events so that the whole of Vancleave can feel a part of the school system. This creates opportunities for volunteering and ways for parents and merchants to help out and give back. He even makes weather announcements fun by posting videos on various social media outlets to inform parents and students alike of school closing. He starts out all his announcements with, "Greeting from the World's Greatest High School!" and with him at the helm, it just might be.

Ashley Rainey Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner is the best principal I’ve ever worked for, and he is 100% about his students and staffulty!

Thomas Slade Posted 8 months ago

I have the honor of working for Rhett Ladner at Vancleave High School. He is an excellent leader, who values his colleageues as well as our Students. Making our school the best it can be is one of his main goals. He means it too! These are not just words to him, not just checking a box on a list. We are with him, helping him be a life changer!

Lindsey Waltman Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner is one of the most loving and caring people I’ve ever met in my life he’s such an amazing person he makes such a huge impact of everyone he interacts with ?? we love him

Annette Davis Posted 8 months ago

Rhett is all those things stated in the nomination letter and more. Energetic is an understatement. I believe the catalyst for change is the fact that Rhett loves his students and that love motivates change and improvement. Rhett is an example of relisilency for staff and students, both personally and professionallly. Rhett would be a great consultant to revitalize and re-energize tired schools and school districts.

Beth Ladner Posted 8 months ago

My children were students under Rhett during his tenor at Hancock High School! He really connects with his students and he knows them each on a personal level. The students loved that he was able to have relationship with them and they trusted him! They were not just "some kids" to him- they were HIS kids! They mean something to him and that is so important to our teenagers! He is a great role model and he is invested in their future and success! Rhett sets standards for all educators, mentors, and parents!

Dorothee Owens Posted 8 months ago

Rhett is an educator that goes the extra furlong for his students,always coming up with innovative ways to better their lives!

Becky Mayo Posted 8 months ago

I always wanted to teach for you! This is a well deserved honor. Miss you.

Rebecca Reid Posted 8 months ago

Rhett is very dedicated and caring to all his staff and students. He has such a big heart. God has blessed him with such compassion. Thank you Rhett Ladner. You deserve the best.

Britteny Bell Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner has been a breath of fresh air and has revitalized our school and me, specifically, as a teacher. He has shifted our mindset to one of the five R’s and teaching the student as a whole instead of one of a data driven robot. He has focused that the kid behind the number is the most important part of that data. He has influenced us to look at each individual and see how we can facilitate their success. He has opened a whole new world to our Staffulty so that we can be free to think outside of the box and try new things. As an educator, change is inevitable, but the changes are mostly state mandated. However, Mr. Ladner has changed the life of every student and staffulty member on our campus in such a short time! People are happy to be here now and when students and staffulty are happy it’s amazing the change that can follow.

Toni Posted 8 months ago

I was a teacher under Rhett and the love and dedication he has for the children and his staff is just amazing.

Lisa Jones Posted 8 months ago

It was an honor and a privilege to work under Rhett at Hancock High School!! He always put the students the parents and the faculty first! He made school fun for everyone! The kids wanted to come to school!! I have never seen another administrator go so above and beyond for his students, his staff, his friends, his family and mostly God!! I am honored to call him friend!! P.S. He makes the best steaks I’ve ever eaten!!

Steve Woolf Posted 8 months ago

I cannot imagine a more worthy recipient than Rhett!!!! I have had the pleasure of knowing him for years and watching him love his students and staffulty to success. Love this guy!! Great choice!!!!

Amanda Buck Posted 8 months ago

Mr. Ladner is greatest boss. He has a special gift of sight to see the potential of his teachers and his students. But not only can he see it, he has a gift for getting them to DO their best. Teaching is not a job when you work for him, it’s an adventure!

Jolene Ladner Posted 8 months ago

This is awesome! I’m not surprised at all. Rhett you are a wonderful leader and we are proud of you and all of your accomplishments. Keep up the good work and God Bless You in all that you do!

Patti Grisham Posted 8 months ago

He was my youngest son’s principal in 2014. He really made a difference. He cared, went all out, and the kids adored him. Loved all the Renaissance activities. My son still talks of Rhett to this day. Rhett has positively impacted so many youngsters. What an awesome example of how a principal should be.

Jenette Chatfield Posted 8 months ago

Mr Ladner was the breath of fresh air Vancleave Middle School needed, and he was the answer to prayers for a better school/community collaboration. He did for the student, what he did for the teachers, made them proud to be part of a team that shows love for their students, and support for their staff. I am personally honored to know of the great strides that Mr Ladner has done for Vancleave, and that they are a better district because he helped them to know their worth. I hope you make sure and recognize how influential he has been to the growing of all who have had the pleasure of saying they know him.

Candy mcnease Posted 8 months ago

Rhett deserves this honor. He’s servedthe children and his community well. Congratulations!

Natalie Malley Banfi Posted 8 months ago

Congratulations Showing love and giving inspiration to students is what some never receive at home Your care and compassion reminds me of Mr. David Kopf He never gave up on anyone

Deborah Naquin Posted 8 months ago

Congratulations Rhett. May you continue to grow in your love for encouraging people to never settle for less than the best. Prayers for your continued journey.

Laura matthewd Posted 8 months ago

Absolutely deserving!!!

Kimberly Carter Posted 8 months ago

He is a wonderful principal to the students and faculty at Vancleave High School. He goes above and beyond for that school.