LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Mary Vacek

Position: Visual Arts Instructor
School: Coffee County Central High School
School District: Coffee County Schools
City, State: Manchester, TN

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Mary Vacek was nominated by her colleague, James Hoggard.

"First and foremost, Mary is my hero because she is not only a major source of inspiration and encouragement to me, but also to all of her students, colleagues, and community," said Hoggard. "Mary is an example of what every teacher aspires to be -- a positive role model for all of her current and former students, and a teacher who is loved and cherished by all who know her."

Ms. Vacek is not only the visual arts instructor for Coffee County Central High School, but she is also highly respected for her dedication to her school community through the multiple roles she serves. In addition to her classroom responsibilities, Ms. Vacek is the Art Club sponsor, Raider Creators sponsor, and scenic director for the school theater. Her set designs and visual enhancements have contributed to the success of many many school plays. There is so much that can be said about her involvement and heartfelt contributions in each of these roles.

Ms. Vacek inspires people around her to care more and appreciate their community more deeply. She is a LifeChanger not only because she loves what she does but she wants everyone to understand how art is everywhere around us. Her example teaches students and colleagues about how art inspires hope, innovation, and brings people together. For this reason, it is no wonder that she is an advocate for expanded funding for arts education in public schools everywhere.

Of course, her positive influence doesn't stop there. She organizes annual art exhibitions of student work and invites everyone in Coffee County to come and admire her students' creativity. She has also organized fundraisers for her school with an online art auction. And on a more personal level, she participated and helped spread the word for a recent a meal train for a colleague's family who welcomed a newborn baby.

"I could go on and on about Mary Vacek, or "Ms V," as the students know her, but I'll stop here to allow plenty of room for her multiple fans to put in their plugs for this wonderful, wonderful lady," said Hoggard. "I can't think of a more worthy person to be recognized as a LifeChanger."



Comments (11)


priscilla van tries Posted 3 months ago

Life Changer = Mary Vacek. Mary reaches out to our students with special needs in many ways. Her classroom's physical space is small and her classes are large but she insists that our students be included. She is not daunted by extra work, understanding, and patience. She is generous with her knowledge and her heart and is a role model for students and faculty. Our system is so fortunate to have her!

Wesley Rutledge Posted 4 months ago

Mary Vacek has left her mark and influence everywhere in Coffee County Central High School. I don't think there is a room in the building that hasn't been brightened by the artwork of her students. She has been an invaluable asset for the theatre department and is the one responsible for bringing color and life to the sets on stage. There have been many productions where she has stayed long into the night, of her own accord, because she believes in the quality of her work. Most importantly, Mary is an educator that always shows a passion for what she does and lets her students know that she truly cares for them. It is simply a fact that the high school would not be as positive or creative without her presence.

Savannah Espy Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. V not only changed my life and my outlook on school, but she also changed how much I appreciate and love art! Because of her I love being artistic!

Betsy Phillips Posted 4 months ago

Mary Vacek is truly a life-changer. She contributes to the art program endlessly by serving long hours preparing for her lessons, the sets for the student theater productions, and student art shows. She always has a calm, welcoming, and loving demeanor toward her students and her colleagues. Her students are truly her kids. I cannot say enough about this woman and her skills of being an involved teacher, a contributing member of the human race, and a talented artist. She changes lives -- no doubt about it!

Rhonda Winton Posted 4 months ago

Mary Vacek's gift is that she loves her job and students and teaches them not to be afraid to pursue what they love! She also supports all departments of the school and fights for teacher and student rights.

Tristan Teal Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Vacek really is a life changer. More than that, she’s a life saver. I can’t even begin to count the times she has been helpful to me inside and outside the classroom. She’s incredibly patient with her students and gives 110%. I would not be where I am today mentally or emotionally if I had not been her student. My only regret is that I didn’t give more of my effort and time to her projects. She deserves it.

Julie Hartung Posted 4 months ago

When I was a student, Mary was always there to make students feel welcome and heard. She made time for anyone and everyone, listened to whatever problems you had, celebrated your accomplishments, and made a genuine difference in so many peoples high school experience, mine included. I spent hours upon hours with Mrs. V, hanging out in her classroom, visiting between classes, attending art club meetings, planning different projects, and stressing about finishing sets together. Mary always had time for me, whether I needed to vent about stressful classes, get advice about my future, or just have a conversation. She honestly has an amazing ability to make you feel more like a person than a student, which was invaluable as a teenager trying to figure out who I was outside out being a student. Even now that I’ve graduated, Mary still has time for me. She is one of the few teachers I know who actively tries to stay connected with her students after graduation, and she is always happy to have visitors and to hear how our lives are going. Mary works her absolute hardest to improve the arts at CCCHE and to create an environment that students want to be in, both during and out of class. Every time I visit, Mary has either planned or started something to improve the arts for students, and it shows. There has been a massive improvement even in the two years since I’ve been a student, and I honestly can’t wait to see what happens in the future under Mary. She’s already changed so many lives, and I know that she will continue to do so for as long as possible.

Carol Vacek Posted 4 months ago

Mary has impressed me with the number of students that return to say thank you. As a long time educator, I believe this speaks highly of her teaching and concern for her students. Also, as a family member, I view her as an intelligent person: a thinker who researches information before forming opinions. Mary is a positive support and contributor to her immediate family and our extended family.

Mike Stein Posted 4 months ago

I support Mary Burch Vacek as a LifeChanger because she puts in countless hours doing whatever it takes to ensure her students' success. She has revitalized the art department at Coffee County Central High School and her students love her! I can not think of a more deserving person to receive the LifeChanger of the Year award!

Jeff Hinshaw Posted 4 months ago

Awsome, well deserved. You rock. Keep up the good work. Your students are so lucky to have a great teacher and mentor.

Becki Louden Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Vacek is a lifechanger. I have some of her students in my Culinary Arts Classes and they all love Mrs. V. She encourages them and is a place of refuge when they are having a bad day. Her students all know she cares about each one of them individually. Her art club has helped all over our school to make it beautiful upgrades and painted sets for events. For my class they have painted signs and I know that she works long hours cleaning her art room and also working on extra projects with her students and club. My students have asked Mrs. V for many art supplies when painting ceiling tiles and other art activities and she is always so kind to let them use her materials. Mrs. V has a heart of gold for the faculty and staff in our school as well as she has donated items to me to use in my classroom which I have appreciated very, very much! I highly recommend Mrs. V. for this great honor as it is extremely well deserved. Thank you