LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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John Lentine

Position: Art Teacher
School: Locust Grove Primary School
School District: Orange County Schools
City, State: Locust Grove, VA

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Music that Describes John


John Lentine's nominator would like to remain anonymous.

Mr. Lentine is an amazing teacher! He has taught upwards of 20,000 children in his 40 years of teaching art in Alaska and Virginia. Mr. Lentine has made a lasting impact, not only on his students, but on his fellow teachers as well. He was Locust Grove Primary School's Teacher of the Year for this past school year, 2018-2019.  

The greatest testaments to his work come from the many parents of the children Mr. Lentine taught over the years. Parents comment all the time on how blessed their children are to have Mr. Lentine for art. They add that they wish they could continue to have him once they move on to third grade and leave the Primary school. Others comment that their older and middle children had him for a teacher, and they can't wait for their younger one to get to kindergarten so they, too, can have Mr. Lentine for art.

He brings such incredible creativity to the classroom through his diversity of projects, mediums, and talents, not only in art, but in music and singing as well. The kids learn songs all year, funny songs that Mr. Lentine makes up. The kids love them and sing while they do their art projects.  In addition to the talent he brings to his craft, he adds costuming and characters as well. He's known both at school and around town for his checkered pants, which he wears daily to class. The checkered pants are from yet another of his talents, that of a magician. He blends art, music and magic throughout his lessons and his classroom on a regular basis. He named his classroom Art's Diner, and he dresses up like a chef cooking up art projects everyday. Some of his students' work can be found on www.artmakesmesmile.com.  In Mr. Lentine's world, art does make one smile. 

Mr. Lentine beautifies the school and has created many masterpieces on the walls of the building to bring life and beauty to the school.  He has painted murals throughout the school depicting the school mascot, the red cardinal, in all sorts of activities. The cardinal is welcoming the kids to school in some areas. It's displaying how to stand quietly in line in the cafeteria, and even showing and teaching the ABC's down an entire hallway. 

Mr. Lentine consistently involves himself in community projects and shows his students' artwork in several area shows each year.  He has been highlighted in the local newspaper several times for his many contributions to both the school district and the community.  Last year, with his Primary School students, he designed and built an "anti-bullying tower" which the children painted. He then circulated the tower through all nine schools in the district.  This allowed each school to participate in anti-bullying discussions, with the students all having a chance to add their own contribution to the tower in the form of written sayings about the impacts of bullying and why it isn't acceptable. 

Mr. Lentine adheres to high moral and ethical standards in all he does. He is a worship leader in the community church and has an excellent performance record.  He is truly a beloved teacher and community member!



Comments (87)


Laura Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine is a larger than life figure in our community. I first met Mr. Lentine at a fine arts festival hosted at our local high school. His trademark checkered pants immediately caught my daughter's attention and made her want to see what he was doing. We found out that he was teaching people how to "draw" cats with pastels. I wasn't surprised when my very artistic daughter followed Mr. Lentine's directions and created a beautiful cat. What was surprising to me was the ease with which Mr. Lentine taught even the least artistic folks, like me, how to draw that day. I was thrilled with my creation! Fast forward a few years, and my youngest son was blessed to be able to attend Locust Grove Primary, the school where Mr. Lentine teaches lessons about art and about life. Morgan immediately felt a strong sense of connection with Mr. Lentine. They bonded over art and animals. Morgan often had a few extra minutes to talk with Mr. Lentine during afternoon pickup (Mr. Lentine was the pickup monitor), and they discovered another connection. My husband and Mr. Lentine's son were both in the Coast Guard. That became a huge link for Morgan and Mr. Lentine. When my husband passed away halfway through Morgan's second grade year, Mr. Lentine showed my entire family that he was so much more than just an art teacher. Mr. Lentine took the time to create an amazing Coast Guard themed card for Morgan. Of course the card was artist, but it was so very thoughtful. He took the time to share his memories of conversations with Morgan's father. He encouraged Morgan to hold on to his own memories and even gave Morgan a basket full of art supplies and a "Coast Guard Blue" art journal he could use to record his memories. That amazing card hold a place of honor in our dining room,and Morgan's art journal is one of his all time favorite gifts. Mr. Lentine did not have to take the time to get to know Morgan and my husband well enough to learn about the Coast Guard connection. He did not have to take the time go above and beyond to offer support to a child who was suffering after the passing of his father., but that is just the type of person Mr. Lentine is at the very heart of his being. Mr. Lentine and I are now both part of a community of teachers striving to find innovative ways to encourage our students to be actively engaged in their educational opportunities. Mr. Lentine is always encouraging to the other members of this group. He brings creative ideas to the table and he has helped me to stretch beyond my comfort zone to try new activities with my students. He is a true gem in our community and he will forever hold a special place in the heart of my youngest son.

Bryan Fitzpatrick Posted over a year ago

I have known John A. Lentine for almost forty-four years; we met one another in Fairbanks, Alaska while finishing up in the Equinox Marathon together in September 1976; he is a BFF and the most honorable, dedicated, and devout person I have ever encountered. I cannot say enough positives about him; his humanity and concern for others, his imaginative endeavors in his constant quest of opening the world of educative possibilities to his past, current, and future students, as well as his colleagues, underscores the God-centered spirituality in the heart and soul of the man; I could not envision a better candidate for the award for which he is being considered than my dear friend John.

Christa Clore-Edmonds Posted over a year ago

John Lentine is the most passionate and creative teacher you might ever have the good fortune to meet. As a colleague, I am constantly impressed by the quality of instruction he provides and how he ensures inclusion for EVERY learner. He works tirelessly, always going above and beyond, for the children and for the love of art! John keeps our school bright and welcoming and adds his own creative masterpieces on all of our walls. It helps to create a loving, child-friendly environment. As a mother, my own children have had the opportunity to be in John's art classes. My children's favorite part of school was always art class! My daughter is convinced that she will be an art teacher when she grows up! I know that she sees the joy that Mr. Lentine brings to his career and has internalized that. It is so encouraging! Anyone who knows John knows that he deserves this recognition. He has dedicated his life to changing lives!

Mary Lee Posted over a year ago

I first met Mr Lentine when he moved in next door to my sister and her husband. Then my grandson came home from school and was thrilled that he had this awesome art teacher. At the time, I didn't know that Mr Lentine was an art teacher, and of course my grandson couldn't remember the names of all his teachers in the first week of primary school. A few weeks later, while my sister and I and Xavier were sitting on my sister's back deck, Xavier, my grandson asked his Aunt what his art teacher was doing on the deck next door. That year was the beginning of a love for art for my grandson. A few years later, my granddaughter came home from school and was telling me about her art teacher being a magician, and that he looked just like the guitar player from church (which he is). They loved seeing him perform at different events in our community and on Sundays at church. They still love getting to see him when they run into him. I believe that the love of art that Mr Lentine instills in his students carries on long after they leave his class. I have seen it in many of his students and you hear it in the halls of all the schools in the district. Both of my grandkids have now moved up to different schools and if you ask them who their favorite teacher was; it is always Mr Lentine, if you ask them why; because he listened and he cared and he made learning fun What more could you want for a Life Changer of the Year award, then someone who exemplifies kindness, grace, love and encouragement to each and every student he comes in contact with.. To have your students remember that years later is the accomplishment every teacher should strive for.

John Posner Posted over a year ago

John Lentine is the personification of a ‘life changer’ – the perfect role model who has daily brought to reality this organization’s values of ‘Do Good – Be Good – Make Good’ for legions of young and impressionable students, many from challenging circumstances, in both Alaska and Virginia. He has, in fact, had a direct and tangible influence across generations as his former students now thank him for the opportunity to send their children to learn under his tutelage. Although it is impossible to measure the true impact of his life’s work, it is certain that it has enormous reach as the untold number of his students, whose lives were enriched by his influence, have taken those lessons with them to all points of the compass. His extraordinary passion for helping others is clearly demonstrated by his ageless and selfless devotion to his work. A true master educator, he now brings unmatched expertise and experience – honed over decades of commitment – to his current and future students. And yet, John Lentine’s full and exemplary career as a teacher is but one aspect of his devotion to community service and impact as a ‘life changer,’ of which there are far too many to list. Two more, however, are worth a short mention. John Lentine has also, for decades, variously volunteered as a vocalist, a musician and a musical director in numerous churches and parishes in the communities to which he belonged – and beyond. His extraordinary talent, unabated by his quiet presence, always brought song and comfort to many a congregation in their times of both joy and sorrow. In addition, John Lentine has pursued a life-long interest in becoming a magician and has spent innumerable hours entertaining young and old alike. His magic has brought a sense of wonder and enjoyment to audiences over the years, including (and especially) to those in unfortunate circumstances (such as hospital patients) who deeply needed and appreciated even a small distraction from the challenges they faced. John Lentine is a ‘life changer.’

BB Posted over a year ago

John Lentine is an amazing teacher, mentor, leader and friend. Studies show the most important ages for children to get a great foundation is K-3rd grade. For over 40 years John has displayed relentless dedication to making sure his students are inspired to love art and express their creativity during their time with him. Walking into John’s classroom you are transformed into a safe place and the students know this is their time to shine. John goes to great lengths to make sure his students have the opportunity to express themselves through art and to set a firm foundation in their early, formative years. What is the full meaning of a TEACHER? T – Talented E – Excellent A - Adorable C - Charming H – Humble E - Encouraging R - Responsible. A great teacher is warm, accessible, enthusiastic and caring. This is the true definition of John Lentine and his passion to make a difference in the lives of every student. Whether you know him as “Mr. Checkers, Uncle Johnny, John, or Mr. Lentine” he is the same – always present for his students, family and friends. As a parent, I know this type of teacher is invaluable in the classroom. John is deserving of this special recognition of LIFECHANGER OF THE YEAR as he touches the lives of one student at a time!

Janis Rieley Posted over a year ago

John's creativity has blessed his students, his friends, his church and his community in so many ways. When students are facing challenges, John hangs in there with them and uses his caring, patience, and understanding to find fun, innovative, and creative ways to reach them and bolster their self control and self confidence. He works way above and beyond typical teacher expectations to set up an outstanding engaging, interactive classroom for the hundreds of students he has each year, often spending his own money to supplement allotted supplies and materials. When asked to have his students contribute their artwork for community events, John seeks to include as many children as possible in cooperative, striking pieces of art that are enjoyed equally by the community and the many proud parents, sometimes changing how parents perceive their children and improving their relationships. Also sharing his knowledge of art history and music history, John is the perpetual teacher, teaching in the classroom, but also friends and anyone he can reach easily assimilating that knowledge with the topic at hand. John is visible as an active leader in the church music program by leading worship, writing songs, and doing special inspirational concerts, but has also worked tirelessly behind the scenes by doing such things as delivering turkey baskets to needy families at Thanksgiving. I am honored to have known John for over 15 years and to watch the great positive influence he has had on everyone who is lucky enough to have their path cross his. He is truly a Life Changer and deserves this recognition and acknowledgement.

Susan petersen Posted over a year ago

I have known John since we were students at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks. He is also my daughter’s godfather. I can say John is an inspired teacher, magician and friend. He is supportive and kind and funny. He never stops thinking of ways to make art fun for his students, but he also is deeply committed to what he does, whether it is being a teacher, a friend, a father, a husband and of course a supportive godfather. He deserves this recognition.

Marty Poch Posted over a year ago

John inspires others through his music. His music reaches and touches people at an emotional and intellectual level. He is fun, supportive and encourages others to be their best.

JD Lentine Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine is an excellent and inspiring teacher! His 30+ years of teaching show in the energy, enthusiasm and commitment that he brings to every class every day. He is always looking for ways to improve the classroom. He makes sure the classroom is always stocked with new equipment and supplies so kids can do all kinds of art! He is also great at combining art, music and magic which makes his classes truly remarkable and memorable. This ability to combine art, music and magic combined with using multimedia presentation methods provide a lasting impression and inspires creativity in all of his students. Even more so, you can often find him putting together art displays and art shows highlighting his students work. He’s the best!

Nancy Lentine Posted over a year ago

John Lentine is the type of teacher that every parent wants their child to have! He is caring,creative, and so passionate about his work. He spends countless hours on his lessons and always makes them fresh and fun for his students. In addition to art, he also adds magic, music and humor to his lessons . The students love him and have come back years later to tell him what an impact he had on them. He truly is a life changer and deserves this award.

Geri Posner Posted over a year ago

There are those that make a difference in other people's lives now and then...my brother John makes a huge difference in many lives every day. He approaches everything he does with passion, gifted skill and tremendous love. Whether he is teaching arts skills to K-2 students or entertaining them though music or magic, John deeply cares about and reaches his charges in a unique and lasting way. He has been teaching for decades...it is not unusual for someone to stop him in a neighborhood store and after hugging him, say "Mr Lentine...I'm so glad to see you...how are you?" People (parents and students alike) remember and cherish their association with John. Perhaps his most life-changing quality is his relentless dedication to making sure his students are inspired every day to love art and be creative during their time with him. A visit to John's art class is a journey that brings smiles and joy to those who revel there until the bell rings. John goes to great lengths to transform his classroom into an incredibly fun arena that grabs the senses...a plethora of colors and shapes for the eyes, textures for little fingers, and music for young ears. I have seen him exhaust himself meticulously preparing each drawer and table for a new school year or for an art show to make sure every student's art is displayed in the very best light or on the most enhancing background. John happily creates works of art in the school: from paintings of the beloved Cardinal mascot in a hallway to a map of the United States on the blacktop, every project brightens and enhances the learning environment. John is one of a kind...a selfless, unrehearsed and genuine educator that truly is a LifeChanger.

Pattie Boertje Posted over a year ago

John is an extraordinary art teacher, friend, co-worker and community member. He is able to connect with children on many different levels as he sings, dances, dresses up, and most importantly, loves children to love art. I absolutely can’t think of anyone more dedicated to his profession or more deserving of this award.

Teresa Gallagher Posted over a year ago

John has been a wonderful life changer in my son Ryan’s life as well as mine. We attended the catholic services on the UAF campus 30 years ago and John played his guitar and sang as Ryan danced in circles in the back. John never knew how he touched my son Ryan’s life. Ryan had a brain tumor and was blind. He passed away when he was 10 and what a beautiful gift to Ryan was to ask John to sing at Ryan’s service. I gave John a poem and He put the music and poem together. I will never forget John touching my son Ryan with his kind heart, beautiful smile, and music. No one deserves this award more than John.

L McGowan Posted over a year ago

I have only worked with Mr. Lentine this year but it is very easy to recognize how much (A) the students love him (B) he loves what he does and (C) he loves the students and wants to help guide their creativity. Mr. Lentine is so instrumental in laying the groundwork for our students to not only be successful in their education but to enjoy learning! Those are key ingredients to a bright future!

Mary Kalinich Posted over a year ago

A LIFECHANGER in theory would inspire a changed life. In itself that sounds pretty incredible. Basically, someone that makes a person change course in the way they see the world whether inside oneself or out and to the degree that a transformation would be born out of that mirror of someone else’s eyes. Mr. Lentine does that, he makes it personal, and is devoted to that outlier that may not have gotten that positive input. Whether it is a friend, family, student, or colleague, he interjects new vision and sparks of creativity opening new doors of confidence for the recipient. I had the opportunity to visit his classroom and the devotion to detail and dedication to provide the intellectual soil for growth on every level was definitely evident. He is comfortable with levels of creativity that only the individual who has attained higher levels of accomplishment enjoy, and he has realized them naturally, often self-taught and prompted by curiosity and talent. Being one of seven siblings and in an Air Force family, Mr. Lentine has lived all over the world and often that takes an ability to acclimate and adjust in addition to the challenges of every day. Living in Alaska, preparation for the average errand would involve plugging your car in, ongoing shoveling to clear a path, knowledge of an environment that could be 20-40 degrees below zero, and donning protective outerwear to move through the day. Often those that have had those experiences are keenly aware of the not so evident challenges, and since they have conquered and prepared for the obvious, can often be a support to those that just need a helping hand in getting through the day. I believe Mr. Lentine brings a level of genius to the classroom that can only be built on a life of hard work and diligence. Even with all those character qualities, he conveys a level of humility that quietly brings support and approachability. He is there for you, and you know he gets you, and wants to help. All that to say, he has been a LIFECHANGER in my life and I have also witnessed with many others, his legacy is his creative work in reaching the individual heart and supporting them with his very ingenious and unique ideas. That is why, I wanted to send an entry for a very special individual who I believe is an asset in whatever arena of teaching, life learning, and edification he is a part of, as with Mr. Lentine, it is about service, competence, and humility in that delivery.

Adam Colson Posted over a year ago

John has made a lasting impact not only on his students, but on the community as well. His students art work brings joy to the walls of many organizations and nonprofits in the community. He works tirelessly to develop creative ways to teach students foundational principles that have a lifelong impact. John also donates a great deal of time to other programs in the community. I can't think of a more eligible candidate for this award.

Deykis Navarro-Lentine Posted over a year ago

John Lentine is my father-in-law and since the day I met him I knew he was special. He changes kids lives not only in his classroom but everywhere he goes. I have seen him making and giving away ballon animals for any kid in a train. I have seen so many children approaching him when we are out for dinner just to shake his hand. I have seen adults approaching him to let him know that they were his students a long time ago and they still remember him. Mr. Lentine changes lives and he does it without realizing it. Mr. Lentine is selfless, humble, and caring. He deserves this recognition and all the love he is receiving every day.

Linda Hull Posted over a year ago

I have known John Lentine since he was a young man. He is a consummate teacher!!! Whatever is good for kids. He uses his Mr. Checkers magic to make learning fun. He has always been committed to being the best teacher possible. Nice for that lifetime of dedication to be rewarded.

Pamela Posted over a year ago

John is truly an inspirational man! I worked with him many years ago for a number of years. He is able to not only see good and talent in each student, but was able to bring it out in even the most reluctant learner. It was always good to see him and his infectious smile, even when he was no longer working with my students because he changed the grade level he was working with to other grade levels. Students felt a special connection with this talented man; and not only as the art teacher. He made everyone feel he was genuinely happy to see them and often with a comment that one knew he remembered them specifically. And this was John EVERYWHERE. I was lucky to have John teach my students, but I was more fortunate to have him be my daughter’s art teacher. He turned some spiteful children’s comments to my daughter about her art abilities to the ability to judge and critique her work and make her own determination. I felt that was huge and I don’t even know if John realized what he had done. He is just that kind of man.

Dr. Billie Sessions Posted over a year ago

I have known John and his local, city, state and national art education work since 1990. He is one in a millions as the saying goes, but for sure one in "thousands!" I was the Pacific regional leader in the National Art Education Association in the early 90s and he was the President of the Alaskan art educators. He was so clear about his goals for art in schools, and so energetic for his state's mission, and what he and his peers wanted to achieve to make a difference for students. This does not take into account ALL the amazing, creative and energetic ideas he had for his own classes. He did make a difference for his students and Alaska. I've run in to him several times throughout the last 30 years and "he's still got it!" He's so clear about the power of art for kids, what he can envision and then working hard to make it happen for his community and schools through his curriculum, service events and educational programs through art education. I can't say I've ever met a man who maintains such high quality energy and steady vision and action for his classes, his mission, and love for his community. He makes 'magic' happen wherever he goes.

Joe Lentine Posted over a year ago

John is my younger brother and he has made teaching art and inspiring young students to cultivate their artistic talents his life's work over 40+ years of teaching in Alaska and Virginia. He works tirelessly year-round to think of new and imaginative lesson plans that will give his students projects that they can build their self expression and gain confidence in their work product. He creates a safe and fun class environment through his alter-ego characters - Art's Diner, Mr. Checkers the magician and his wide-ranging musical talents. His classroom appearance and the teaching resources and materials within it are a result of a 24/7 passion for his work and his willingness to seek out local monetary grants and other donations so that his students can have a wide variety of artistic experiences to challenge their imagination. Anyone who spends a little time in one of John's classrooms can easily see the extra effort he puts into his work, and the young students who have the opportunity to do a years worth of projects at his direction would surely gain a broad view of how art can become a vital part of their growing life experiences. John's enthusiasm is also not confined to just his classroom, as he constantly reaches out to other teachers and the schools that he teaches in to display his students work or to otherwise add his own energy and talents to bring an artistic accent to the schools objectives and programs. I am constantly amazed at the number of parents and students from years past that will always take the time from across the restaurant/room, or at a community event to say hi to John and tell him how much they appreciated his class, or how much of a positive impression he gave their son and/or daughter. In that regard, John's nomination for an award like this seems very appropriate and perhaps, long overdue. Thank you for your consideration of John for this award.

Christina Corrigan Posted over a year ago

Best art teacher! My 2 of my kids attended LGES years ago and he made art so much fun and they thoroughly enjoyed it. He has the the best attitude and loves his job! Kids love going to his class and he offers so much! Since then I’ve been to England and back and haven’t had a teacher for art like him. Wish more were like him.

Angel Bellair Posted over a year ago

Not only have I had the pleasure of working with John Lentine, but I have also been fortunate enough to have him teach three of my own children. I have always admired John’s positive outlook as a teacher and coworker. He has a natural way of boosting the morale - whether it’s by sharing a story or writing a new fitting song for every occasion. My students loved going to art because John encourages exactly that - a true love of art. His projects and pieces are fun and engaging. His devotion and dedication is not only reflected in his classroom, but can be seen in the hallways throughout the school and even outside of the building onto the playground. I am beyond grateful to know John Lentine and to have my own children appreciate art and grow into little artists because of him. John has touched the lives of so many and no one is more deserving of this award!

JIm Lentine Posted over a year ago

John Lentine may be the only person ever for whom having a "checkered" (as in Mr. Checkers) past is a good thing. John is the most amazing, kind, thoughtful, inspirational, spiritual, loving and funny person that I have ever known. Really, the judging for the Life Changer of the Year should end now because John Lentine is and has been a life changer for his entire career. He has inspired literally countless children throughout his decades of service as a teacher, a musician and an entertainer. I have never met a person who could light up a room from the from the reflection of the eyes of the children in it like John can. He has the magical ability to fascinate his students and open their minds and imagination to be able to experience art and music like they never had before, all while keeping them in stitches from his "punny" sense of humor. As his older brother, I am so proud of John, not only as an amazing human being, but also that his career as a Life Changer in the most positive, life-affirming and loving sense of the word, is being recognized by his community.

Linnea Ross Posted over a year ago

My children were too old to be in “Mr. Checkers” class when he first came to Virginia, but we were blessed to be his neighbors and I saw all the work he put into making his classroom something that the kids would come into and immediately be ready to relax and create! He has such an amazing heart for his students and I often got to see pictures of their wonderful projects! I still love to check them out on Facebook even though I’ve moved a few hundred miles away. These children are impacted by him as he encourages and pushes them to excel in every area of their lives. They do not forget about “Mr. Checkers” or Mr Lentine. ??

Ciera Christensen Posted over a year ago

Mr. Checkers from Badger Road Elementary in North Pole, Alaska! The best traveling Art Teacher around. Thanks for all the time you put in at Badger Road, thanks for all the fun protects and thanks for making everything fun!!

Angie Neely Posted over a year ago

John Lentine, aka Mr. Checkers, is the perfect choice for this award! He is always thinking about his students, and planning new ways to make his classroom interesting and exciting for them! He has made a huge impact on the young children and families in this community. A few years ago, my husband and I traveled with John and his wife to Alaska. We were absolutely astounded at the number of adults, including two flight attendants on the plane from Seattle to Anchorage, who remembered Mr. Checkers as their art teacher when they or their children were students of his many year ago. Wherever we went in the large state of Alaska, we randomly ran into people who knew and loved Mr. Checkers! Time after time, we heard stories about Mr. Checkers being their favorite teacher and what an amazing impact he had on their lives! John is a terrific friend and I am so incredibly proud of him!

Janet Moore Posted over a year ago

As co-chair of the Lake of the Woods Visual Arts Council, our group had contact with John who provided contact with all the county art teachers. We sponsor an annual art show in the community and John contacted the other art teachers and organized the student art display at the show. Proceeds from the show and sale were distributed to the art teachers. Many students came to the show and parents and children expressed their appreciation for all that John did with the children. His classroom was amazing with all the creativity, all designed to teach art concepts but to also foster kindness and good learning habits in the classroom. Always thinking of new ways to engage the children he was selfless in spending time to make the classroom experience richer! He is very deserving of this award!

Peggy Carlson Posted over a year ago

Well deserved nomination! My children, ages 31 and 26 have both been positively shaped by John. Art, magic, music, positive attitude, example for others... John deserves this recognition!

Barbara Burch Posted over a year ago

John Lentine is a gift! His love of children, education and the arts is what makes him such an amazing teacher! He brings years of experience and a wealth of knowledge to every class that he works with and is in the business for exposing all kids to the beauty that exists in their world. He shows them how to express the beauty that is in them in the form of art and music! He is an advocate for students in need, showing them all of the talents they possess. I was blessed to have been able to work with John for many years in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Tricia Connelly Yocum Posted over a year ago

John Lentine has been a dear friend for 43 years. We originally met as part of our church family, then both also worked at Immaculate Conception School and the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District until he moved to the East Coast. John’s an incredible artist who empowers children (and adults!) to create, aspire, heal, and bless others through art, magic, and music. He’s not only an extraordinary artist, but also a person of the highest integrity, caring, compassionate, and passionate about bringing out the best in each other. He’s has a positive impact on our family as well as thousands of families in Alaska and now VA. He truly IS a “life changer” and MOST deserving of this award. We are blessed to have been friends for so long and to have learned so much from him. Congratulations John aka “Mr. Checkers”

Philip Richardson Posted over a year ago

I have not known John as an art teacher. John and I were members of the University of Alaska Choir of the North almost fifty years ago. One year when was a member and I wasn’t, the choir as going to Europe on tour. Through his leadership, drive, and ingenuity, he and his fellow choir members raised money for the trip.

Teresa Lesage Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine, aside from his wonderful supportive presence in classes, has created enduring lessons for the school district and his impact is still being felt here in Fairbanks, Alaska. His thoughtful plans that step teachers, busy and perhaps art challenged, through playful yet meaningful lessons on important art concepts have been critical to ensuring that students have a great experience learning. He is truly a treasure and has positively impacted thousands during his practice. Thank you, L-19!

Roxanne Posted over a year ago

I worked with a John at Fairbanks North Star Borough School District and hands down he is the very best! John has touched, and continues to touch, so many hearts of our youth and spreads his positive demeanor not only to thousands of students but to faculty, staff, parents, and community members along the way. It has always amazed me how he keeps his teaching ‘fresh’ and not a ‘canned’ type of teaching style. I’ve seen countless art projects from students on the walls and bulletin boards across the school district. Not only does he share his magic in of creating art, he also spends his spare time as ‘Mr. Checkers’. John is loved by all! I believe what touches me personally about John is that he has a hug heart and deeply cares; it is not act, he truly cares for everyone, he shares his love for life with mankind! Best of luck John!

Rachelle L Jones Posted over a year ago

Both of my children have been lucky enough to be taught by Mr. Lentine. I couldn't think of anyone more deserving. His teaching skills are one of a kind and he creates memories that stay with the kids forever. We are very lucky to have him in our school district and part of our childrens' lives.

L Cynthia lentine Posted over a year ago

John is such a wonderful teacher. I have always been so impressed whenever I have had a chance to visit his classrooms. Even among family and friends he always takes time to spend with the children and create special activities and learning experiences.

Heather Seay Posted over a year ago

John has a personality that brightens a room! He brings energy and light into LGPS. He beautifies the building and fosters creativity in all of the students. He adds his special touch even to faculty meetings by writing/playing songs for staff. As a special education teacher, I’ve seen firsthand John’s effort to get to know all of the students and work with them on their individual levels. Thanks for all you do, John!

Barb Christie Posted over a year ago

Such a great guy, completely devoted to his “art” (literally!!) and his students! What a gift to the schools he’s served!!

Sherri McGhee Posted over a year ago

I worked with John for 8 years as his Principal and Assistant Principal. His dedication to his profession and work ethic is way above and beyond any expectation someone else may have for him. He is passionate about art, music and magic! He loves his students and treats everyone with respect! He is a lifelong learner who is always looking for new ways to engage his students and grow their love of art and learning. You won’t meet a kinder more generous person. He is a true gem. Love you John! ??

Tanya Hall Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine taught my children. Here’s what two of them have to say: “He’s really nice and encouraging. I think it’s because of him that I love art so much.” “I liked when he did magic because it was cool. He’s really nice with kids.” One of the things my kids loved the most was being king or queen for an art day. They would come home and just beam that he had chosen them. His passion and love for art and children has always been evident.

Phillis Benson Posted over a year ago

I've known John from his Fairbanks Alaska teaching days and follow his updates on Facebook. He's not only a wonderful (and fun) person, he devoted to his teaching career as someone that goes beyond the 'job'. As an art teacher, he weaves in all aspects of education into his curriculum (hint the kiddos don't know that they are really learning, more than art, while having a blast in his classes!).

Paula Pietrowski Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine made Noah’s move from New Hampshire to Virginia a special time for him! Noah asked me to put all of his artwork from Mr. Lentine’s class into his memory box. In Mr. Lentine’s class Noah learned a deep appreciation for art, particularly his own ability to creat artwork. I will never forget the joy on Noah’s face every time he brought home a new piece of HIS art. Thank you Mr. Lentine!

Daisy Breeden Posted over a year ago

Me. Lentine is dedicated to making a difference in the lives of all children. His devotion in inspiring children to recognize the value of art is truly amazing!

Sandra Yamazaki-Regn Posted over a year ago

I was neither a colleague nor a student of John's, I was a classmate back in High School many years ago. (Sorry for the "many" comment John) The first time I saw "Mr. Checkers" was during a High School talent show and we were all amazed. He came back and performed again for our 35th (?) class reunion. You could see the abilities John would go on to develop and nurture even back then. As a fellow art student, I was in awe of John's abilities. It says something that after 48 years, I am still keeping up on his career and life. I recently wrote on his Facebook page that I wish I could be a student in his class. His creativity mixed with fun would be the ideal setting for a class. I went on to use art as therapy for teen boys with behavior problems, but I know in my heart John would have been able to get through to them quicker and more effectively. This award was made for a teacher like John "Mr. Checkers" Lentine.

Brandi Dodson Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine is amazing. Being a parent of a special needs child you often stress and worry that your child will not be included in all activities and over looked with teacher interactions due to their needs. Mr. Lentine tweaks his lessons and engages each and every child while reflecting on each of their interests and needs. I personally have recieved photos of my son in activities with Mr. Lentine enjoying musical instruments and dancing while painting or drawing. The thought of having such an amazing, interactive and caring teacher in my childs daily routine makes things much more reassuring. He is a life changer.

Deanna Jones Posted over a year ago

John Lentine was a wonderful addition to the LGES staff when my kiddos went there. I was appreciative of the dedication he showed to the students and well as how involved he was in increasing school spirit. To this day, anytime I see him in the community he always has a smile on his face and a “Hi, how are you?”,even though my kids are now college students. Thank you for all that you have done and continue to do in our community!

Jill Dickmyer Posted over a year ago

I have known John for about 15 years and has been a family friend for most of them. It didn’t take long to realize his many talents with art, music and his magic shows! His love of teaching and the positive impact he has had on so many of his student’s lives is amazing!! Oh to have been a student in Art’s Diner....how fun would that have been? If only all of our teachers everywhere could be half as inspiring and creative!! My family has been lucky to see a couple of Mr. Checkers magic shows and to hear him sing. He even writes his own songs!! His talent and creativity know no bounds!!

Amanda Posted over a year ago

Absolutely the best person inside and out ??

Steven Calleja Posted over a year ago

Mr. John Lentine has a gift to teach and shape the minds of children. He is admired by so many that have passed through his art program. The children proudly walk the halls pointing out to their parents the imaginative creations they have created. His kind heart and selfless dedication to the children of Orange County Virginia is unmatched. He truly is a life changer for many...

April Creekmore Posted over a year ago

I love that Mr. Lentine allows the children to talk on a microphone about their art and show their peers. I have seen the pride and confidence the children gain. Mr. Lentine has already earned this award from so many of his students.

Kris Clemet Posted over a year ago

My children are all so lucky to have been taught by the famously amazing in every way Mr. Lentine! Mr. Lentine is the greatest art teacher- he inspires students with creative art direction, music, "Art's Diner" themed activitied and much more. He has painted the school halways alive with Cardinal Spirit, he's active at his church in the community, and you will see him at art fairs around the community as well. These kids are getting a wonderful education. "Mr. Checkers" is a magical teacher. This is your winner.

Mary Ryan Posted over a year ago

It is an honor to know John. He runs fascinating art classes for his students. Never boring, always original. He shares his love of art and all things good and true and kind with each student and staff.

Claudia Pierson Posted over a year ago

There isn't a better choice for this recognition...John entertained my own daughters decades ago after they had earned reading awards for continued reading at the local library during the summer. John enthralled my own classroom students with his magical teaching, catchy lyrics for art related songs about Monet, and other famous artists, and John inspired me as a teacher to want and to remember to make art an important part of the weekly routine in my classroom. Alaska was sad when he left us, but he has put in a whole other inspirational career in Virginia. Precious children have received meaningful education from a fabulous artist, musician, magician, and gentleman.

Lauren Posted over a year ago

Mr Lentine is one of the best people you will ever meet! His love of art and teaching art is evident to anybody who has ever visited his classroom. He has inspired all3 of my children from my oldest who had no interest in art at all until his

Debbie Lentine Posted over a year ago

Not only is John a great art teacher, he’s also a great brother in law and Uncle! Anyone who went to public school in Fairbanks, Alaska in the 80’s and 90’s knows Mr. Lentine and the great art teacher that he is. Once when John was on vacation and visiting us in Scottsdale, Az. he went to our daughter’s school when she was in 3rd grade and taught an Art Class! Art has been John life and he has a wonderful, loving and caring way of teaching it and sharing the love of art with his students .

Rhonda McAnulty Posted over a year ago

I remember Mr. Lentine as "Mr. Checkers" in Fairbanks, Alaska. He brought so much wonder, laughter and sheer joy to all children and he is such a kind soul. If anyone deserves this, Mr. Checkers for sure!!!

Flora Roddy Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of working with Mr. John Lentine in the Fairbanks School District! I also have three children who went through school with him as their art teacher, as well as having seen many of his Mr. Checkers the Magician shows! He used to play his guitar and sing at our annual Christmas luncheon at our District office. John is an all around great guy and thousands of students now appreciate art, music, magic, laughter and being a good kid because of him! I'm so proud to know him and call him my friend! So deserving of this award!

Courtney Stemple Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine is the most creative, inspiring, and talented art teacher I have ever seen. He teaches with such passion, which bring out the creativity in his students. “Art’s Diner” is where the students love to go. Two of my children have been lucky enough to have him as their art teacher, and loved the experience. From a camcorder connected to 2 big screen TV’s for the students to watch and learn how to create step by step, to a microphone that the students can use to present their artwork to their fellow classmates. Mr. Lentine provides his students with the best, which is what he is, the BEST! Mr. Lentine makes art fun and easy to learn. He deserves this award for all he does in school and around the community.

Christa Stine Posted over a year ago

I couldn’t be more excited that Mr. Lentine has been nominated for this award. He is by the far the best art teacher I’ve ever met. My 3 children were SO blessed to have him and always shared fun assignments they did or songs they sang. My youngest loved the ‘king of the day’ where he could sit at a special desk and have special duties during art class. Mr. Lentine has a true gift of teaching children to appreciate art and to appreciate themselves and their individual artistic gifts. He is a true ‘gem’ and so very kind! You always seem him interested in helping people and always smiling. He would be so deserving of this award. He has contributed immensely to the schools but also the community. He is a true Lifechanger!

Kasi Dominick Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of knowing Mr. Lentine as both a coworker and parent. His passion for art and for his students is contagious! His students were always excited for art and would constantly have a "count down" to the next art class. My own son's creativity blossomed while he was a student of Mr Lentine's and he continues to love being creative. I attribute this to the encouraging and kind nature of Mr. Lentine. John... you are the most deserving person for this award! You have changed MANY lives throughout your years, including mine, my son's, and your multitudes of students. Thank you John!

Juanita Roush Posted over a year ago

What an asset John Lentine is to art education. I went into Me. Lentine’s classroom and he was teaching kindergarten students depth perception in art. I watched these children draw trees that did not look flat but trees were drawn close and in the distance. He teaches students the importance of fine arts and introduces them to classic artists while strumming his guitar and singing songs he creates or performing magic. Art’s Diner incorporates current academics in art projects to support the learning experience of other classes. He had students create a stamp out bullying tower that traveled to other schools because he cares about all students. John’s passion for teaching is evident in all that he does. Our county is fortunate to have an educator of his caliber. He is well deserving of accolades although that’s not why he puts his heart into teaching. He just loves what he does and wants every student to enjoy learning.

Sharon corner Posted over a year ago

John taught my two sons at locust grove elementary. Me 23 year old still quotes him when doing art work, and my 18 year old still calls Mr Lentine his favorite teacher. To have a teacher who pulls out the best of his students, who appreciates their individuality, and remembers them ten years later in a grocery store....? He truly is a treasure.

Donna Swingler Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of teaching with John for many years. He is truly an inspiration not only to students but to the staff as well. I am always in awe of how amazingly talented he is in art, music and magic. Students are always excited to go to art and love to show off their art work after class. They are so proud of their work and the artist they become under his guidance. He has even turned a few of us teachers into artists. He is so deserving of this honor.

Janice Suthard Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege and honor of teaching 5 years with Me. Lentine. I have taught more than 25 years in 7 different places, and he is by far the best teacher I have ever known. He cares about every single student. He add humor, love and life lessons into his lessons. He is flexible and helps the other teachers. He is most simply put, ‘the best ever’!

Rachel Moniak Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine was an amazing influence when I was in elementary school in the 90's. His positive energy and love of education was always evident when he came in - he was a traveling art teacher who brought us fun projects a few times per year. I'm so glad he has this opportunity and that he is still going strong in his mission to spread art and education. Best of luck, Mr. Checkers! Your students are so lucky to have a role model like you sharing your love for art and creativity.

Laurie Powers Posted over a year ago

I am thrilled to see that John Lentine was nominated for this distinction, as no one I know has ever deserved it more. His love of art and teaching, and his passion, creativity, and tireless dedication to his students is exemplary. I could go on and on, but I will just say that if he had been my art teacher, I would never forget him and I would be a better, more confident, inspired and creative person today, as I imagine his students will be. John is certainly changing lives, most likely every one he touches, and I hope he wins!

Lee Finger Posted over a year ago

John is a master teacher and has been developing 21st century skills in students well before it was a "buzz word." John truly values flexibility and creativity in his teaching and thinking. Many children love going to art at Locust Grove Primary because of the high engaging and hands on approach he provides for all of his students. The work and love that Mr. Lentine puts into his craft is a true reflection of the heart and drive he carries with him everywhere. He loves people in word and deed and it is evident in all of his interactions with students and adults. John always reminds me of the great Henry Ford quote: "Whether you think you can or you can't...you're right." Mr. Lentine is truly deserving of an award of this title. He is a positive force in our community and a life changer.

Trista Crass Posted over a year ago

I went to school in the 90s where we did not have funding for art programs. In my school we barely had art supplies. But once or twice a year Mr checkers would come through---he was nothing short of magic. I still remember to this day and teaching me how to use scissors correctly--you move the paper not the scissors!! Just a few weeks ago I taught the same to my child. No one was around to teach me things like that, bring a little magic, how make something special out of just construction paper and glue. Mr. Checkers wasn't a teacher, he was a legend that made elementary school special. Bless him.

Lindsey Hopewell Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine instilled a love of art in my oldest child. He loved Mr. Lentine’s art class, and I loved that he was learning about real art and not just doing typical kid art projects. Starting in kindergarten, he brought home still life drawings of fruit, renditions of Van Gogh, and so many other wonderful things. Mr. Lentine definitely deserves to be recognized for all that he does for the kids, the school, and the community.

Sydney Wynn Posted over a year ago

I have known Mr.Lentine for years, and he has always been an inspiration to me growing up.

Kevin Posted over a year ago

John is an amazing person, and has had an incredible impact in the community through his role in the primary school! He has a heart for serving others, and gives himself fully to improving the lives of those around him.

Pamela Wayne Posted over a year ago

John inspires all around him! He gave my son the love of art! All of his artwork from his class is still proudly displayed in our house! Thanks John for all you continue to do! Thanks for being an inspiration for all us teachers too! Pam

Patricia Wheeler Posted over a year ago

John Lentine is an excellent teacher my daughter first met him in 4th grade at Locust Grove Elementary He showed great unique techniques that were challenging but not frustrating. My daughter loved his classes and learned so much the few years she had him as a teacher. He made Art fun and a wonderful learning experience. Each year a new experience and challenges. His knowledge of Art incorporated with his musical talents made every child excited for class with Mr. L thank you for your commitment to teaching and your heart ?? for all Children.

Tracy Centeno Posted over a year ago

Mr. John taught all three of my girls in Alaska on Fort Wainwright. My youngest was so excited every time the art teachers came. He not only taught my kids the love of art, but the why that piece was so important. We got to know Mr. John in the school community, but in our church community also where he taught 2 of my kids in the art of music. He is an amazing guy that I am so grateful to have gotten to know and so thankful for his blessings he has shared. Thank you John for all the love you have shown my family over the years

Crystal Phillips Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine is a wonderful teacher! He has now taught all three of my children, currently teaching my youngest. He taught my oldest as a kindergartener in his first year teaching in Locust Grove & coached my middle child to a second place regional award art contest through the PTA. He has a special place in our hearts! We are truly blessed to have had him teach our kids. His first class from Locust Grove will be graduating this year! How wonderful it would be for him to win this award, and so deserved.

Laura moore Posted over a year ago

My 2 girls had John as their art teacher and I love all of the art with they did with him. Many pieces are framed and hung in our house and get compliments from everyone! He definitely deserves this award!

Kelley Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine epitomizes what it means to be a teacher. He cares about his students not only in school but outside of school as well. He took time out of his schedule during the school year and summer to volunteer his time to renovate the school's outdoor blacktop playground area to ensure the kids would have a fun and educational recess everyday. I feel very fortunate that all of my children have had him as a teacher and he has inspired all of them to create and love art.

Chris Myers Posted over a year ago

I have known John Lentine, aka Mr. Checkers, for 45 years, and I have been blessed over all these years with his friendship, humor, creativity and his many talents which he shares with enthusiasm, as well as his generous help, advice & support when they were needed. At the time when my husband passed away suddenly, John immediately flew all the way from Virginia to Alaska and knew just what to do to prepare a lovely funeral for him. He designed a beautiful program for the service, wrote music & songs honoring my husband and sang those songs at the funeral. John's loving support got me through the toughest days of my life.

Amanda Mitchell Posted over a year ago

Very well deserved. Fantastic mentor to so many students.

Sharon cornwr Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine is an amazing teacher. Students are blessed with his fun tracing style and amazing gift to bring out the best of students. My son nominated him every year as teacher of the year and his version of “sunflowers” is framed and hanging in my office.

Katie Cooper Posted over a year ago

Very much deserved! A fantastic teacher, community member and inspiration!

Julie Fithian Posted over a year ago

Mr. Lentine is a wonderful teacher. His lessons are thoughtful, fun, and help the kids love school. We are so fortunate to have him in our lives.

Isabellas mom Posted over a year ago

Congrats even though isabella is at orange elem now you taught her to love art and not be afraid to express herself...thank you for your patience with an autistic child.

Santana Family Posted over a year ago

We think you are amazing, and talk about you often in our household. Your morning welcomes make the day for some kids (and parents too!). I appreciate all you do for the kids as well as at the clinic. You deserve the award hands down!

Jesse W. Magruder Posted over a year ago

WOW, what an honor! I can't think of anyone who is so deserving of this recognition. You are an amazing teacher and your passion for your craft comes across daily in your interactions with your students. You have the "gift of creativity" and it is a blessing that you choose to share your gift with our most impressionable - children. Thanks for your service and commitment to children and their educations. Jesse

Lisa Atkinson Posted over a year ago

John - you are an inspiration to others and such a moral builder for that school. You really let your light shine & for that most of all you will be remembered. To God be the glory!