LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Lonna Latimer

Position: Retiring Kindergarten Teacher
School: State Street Elementary School
School District: Topeka Public Schools 501
City, State: Topeka, KS

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Music that Describes Lonna

Lonna Latimer was nominated by her principal, Dr. Troy Sawyer.

State Street Elementary School is located in Topeka, Kansas. Topeka is a state capital known for its progressive views with race, especially as it plays into the educational system. Within Topeka is a community named Oakland.  Oakland is a community of individuals and families who band together to ensure the safety and well-being of all of their community members, despite some of the struggles that often come with a large number of households living below the poverty line. 

Mrs. Latimer has lived in Oakland all of her life.  She attended State Street as a child.  Growing up, she always knew she wanted to be a teacher.  Years later, she landed a job as a teacher at State Street. She has taught at State Street for more than 20 years. State Street has been her home for so long.

Mrs. Latimer is one of the most genuine people you could ever meet. There is not a mean or judgemental bone in her body. She works in a tough school which contain some tough behaviors, but every day, Mrs. Latimer says "God bless them. It's a rough day, but they're still trying." That's her schtick; her god-given talent.  She never views a bad moment or behavior as a detriment, but as a learning opportunity.

Mrs. Latimer has served as a mentor for so many teachers. She visits each and every teacher daily to check in on them for their own well-being. She fosters the staff in her building because she knows teaching can be a daunting job, but she knows it will have a positive impact on students if her colleagues love their job.

The love she pours into her students not only support her students socially and emotionally but also positively impacts the academics. The amount of growth that is seen in her classroom each year is astounding. She prepares most of her children for first grade, and she sets up a system to ensure struggling students get the interventions that they need. No child leaves her classroom without the support they need.

Again, you cannot put into words what she brings to the table.  You have to see it.  You have to meet her and feel her generosity and love. Adults still visit State Street to visit her and/or volunteer for her classroom.  There isn't a week that goes by where she doesn't have 4 or 5 volunteers in her classroom, because they love what she stands for.

"Writing an essay will never amount to the love, education and culture that Mrs. Lonna Latimer brings," said Dr. Sawyer. "In my many years in education, I truly cannot think of anybody more deserving of this award.  It's her last year of teaching and I think this would be truly commemorative of all of the lives that she has touched!"

Comments (12)

DEBRA RICHARDSON Posted 25 days ago

I am proud to say that Lonna Latimer is my younger sister. We grew up in the Oakland community so Lonna was thrilled when she began teaching kindergarten at the same school we attended. We were very blessed to having loving, caring parents and Lonna shared those same blessings with her students. Every day, she welcomed these young children by telling them how special they are, how much they mean to her and how lucky she was to be their teacher. It is without a doubt, her students learned their letters and numbers but she taught them so many more valuable life lessons of love and kindness. Her students knew what it felt like to be loved and she showed them by example how important it is to be kind to one another. The caring and compassion she gave to these young kindergartens was priceless! I'm certain she will be missed.

Jewelia Oswald Posted 29 days ago

Lonna Latimer has been the most wonderful colleague and mentor. She constantly reaches out to everyone in the building, her students AND her colleagues. Mrs. Latimer remembers the support staff at every holiday with some momento of appreciation. She has positive words of encouragement for everyone she sees in the hall. I can't count the number of times she lifted me up with kind words and praise for what I do. She's about the most patient person I know. She has nurtured generations of young children with her calm ways and kind words. She met every child right where they were at and loved them exactly as they were. We will miss her terribly at State Street!

Darlene Day Posted 30 days ago

I was a para at State Street for several years and had the privilege of helping Mrs. Latimer in her classroom on occasion. Mrs. Latimer was passionate about her role and very creative in helping her students achieve their social and academic goals. I am sure she has touched the hearts of all the students she has had over the years and they will always remember her. She is a wonderful caring person and teacher!

Nicci Brown Posted 1 months ago

Mrs Latimer is an amazing teacher and person! She is a blessing to everyone she comes in contact with! She touches your heart and pulls out the best from students to teachers!! We all need more Mrs Latimers! ??

Christine Williams Posted 1 months ago

I have known Mrs. Latimer for 7 years. I have only ever heard great things about her. I honestly have never seen her without a smile. She gives her love to students, parents and staff freely. She is 100% a blessing.

Amanda Sellers Posted 1 months ago

Lonna is hands down the best educator I have ever met. She is everything I aspire to be as a teacher and I genuinely never felt more supported or encouraged by a colleague and mentor before. She poured so much love into me throughout my first year of teaching and constantly reminded me that she believed in me. I can only hope to change half of the lives that she’s changed over her teaching career. I couldn’t be more genuine when saying she is the most deserving person and has the kindest heart. She gives and gives and is constantly lifting others to remind them of their full potential. I wouldn’t have survived my first year without her.

Angela Swisher Posted 1 months ago

Mrs. Latimer is one of the most AMAZING teachers I have ever had the pleasure of working with. Every child she has taught or came in contact with, were truly blessed to have her. Patient, kind, genuinely caring, are just a few of the words I would use to describe her. Even on the most difficult days , she would greet you with a smile and kind words while teaching and being engaged with her students!!! A true blessing for 501!!!

Sheri Wiley Posted 1 months ago

Mrs. Latimer is the most amazing lady ever! She is as genuine as they come. She doesn’t just tell you that she cares, she shows it in everything she does. She is very welcoming and makes the children feel absolutely and completely comfortable and at home. She is such a calm and patient teacher. We love her and are sad our year with her was cut short! I don’t think I’ll ever meet another teacher as amazing as this wonderful woman!

Marcie Cowdin Posted 1 months ago

I student taught with Mrs.Latimer during her last year at State Street. With it being her final year, she could have turned down the responsibility of a student teacher, but instead welcomed me with open arms. Mrs. Latimer is the kindest, most genuine person I've ever known. She has a heart for service and has dedicated her life to serving the community she grew up in. Every day she let's her students and all staff know how much she loves them, appreciates their hard work, and talks about how proud she is to serve the Oakland Community. She has taught multi generations who all come to visit her each year, and who request her as a teacher for their own children. She has been a mentor to so many educators and students. There isn't a day that goes by that she isn't pouring into our Oakland Community and our school. She was the only person in her family who graduated from college and has always understood the opportunities given to her as a result of getting her teaching degree. I cannot ever think of State Street Elementary without thinking of Mrs. Latimer. She truly has a servant's heart and any one who has ever had the privilege to know her is a better person for it.

Marilyn Riddle Posted 1 months ago

Mrs. Latimer taught my great niece Nev two years ago. Nev loves Mrs. Latimer! Nev loved Kindergarten. "Mrs. Latimer is the best! I'm so glad she is my teacher. I'm blessed." I'm very glad Nev was in Mrs. Latimer's classroom, too. Mrs. Latimer truly is the best!

Jenna Posted 1 months ago

Ms. Latimer is an extraordinary example for her students. I am a physical therapist for the district and jump between many buildings. Ms. Latimer has made me feel welcome at State Street from day 1. She makes an effort to gift the relate service team something each holiday, letting the kids give them to us. She shows so much love to her students! I aspire to spread kindness like she does. What a truly great person!

Lauren Peel Posted 1 months ago

Mrs Latimer has served hundreds of students, families, and staff members. Her service to State Street is multigenerational as she ended her career teaching the sons and daughters of her own former students. She is positive, uplifting, and motivating to each person she interacts with on a daily basis. Oakland and the Topeka community is lucky to have experienced her as such an influential teacher and professional.