LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Anna Garafolo

Position: Director of Student Affairs / Athletic Director
School: Wayne Local School District
School District: Wayne Local School District
City, State: Waynesville, OH

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Anna Garafolo was nominated by her superintendent, Pat Dubbs.

Mrs. Garafolo is a LifeChanger in the Waynesville, Ohio community. She has multiple leadership roles in her school community: athletics, wellness, and coordinator of “The Waynesville Way.”  She is extremely hardworking and dedicated to the success of her students and the Waynesville school community. 

Her personal pursuit of high standards and high expectations has a positive ripple effect.  In an unprecedented 2020-21 school year, her hard work with The Waynesville Way has been incredibly important.  The Waynesville Way is the Children’s First Initiative in her district. It was established to engage adults in Waynesville to actively participate in the growth of the community’s youth.

"Our vision is a future where all children, teens, young adults, and community members have the support of one another in order for us to all thrive," said Dubbs. "Care and support are needed to help young adults become happy, healthy, and successful. We believe every adult in a community plays a role in helping our youth thrive.  Anna has become a “Change Agent” in a tapestry of support.  Her passion and energetic personality has become the face of The Waynesville Way."

Mrs. Garafolo is highly personable and helps people to see the importance of five fundamental concepts for building a successful relationship:

  • Express Care
  • Challenge Growth
  • Provide Support
  • Share Power
  • Expand Possibilities

Numerous groups, organizations, businesses, families, and community members now have a common bond:  The Waynesville Way and Mrs. Garafolo as the chairperson overseeing this collaborative, supportive initiative. 

Mrs. Garafolo is also a Board Member for the United Way of Warren County. She connects the Warren County Foundation (Ohio) to the local community.  With Mrs. Garafolo's assistance, the district is actively involved in the Dolly Parton Imagination Library Early Childhood Literacy Initiative in Warren County, Ohio. She has been a catalyst for a mobilization of local faith community leaders to focus on youth, community development, and assistance. 

In the spring of 2020, face-to-face school instruction was halted because of COVID-19.  Wayne Local Schools continued to provide meals to the community’s youth.  A successful food-to-go program provided nutrition to students throughout the spring and summer.  The food-to-go program, which was hosted on a school campus, then expanded to a community-wide program that distributed food.  Community organizations and businesses supported this robust program. Mrs. Garafolo was a conduit for the many entities that made “Food to Go” a success.  She embodies the mission to make Waynesville, Ohio a place where all adults and youth have opportunities to work, play, and live together. 

"A major challenge this fall has been holding school extracurricular activities. More than ever, we believe that extracurricular activities are a crucial part of a well-rounded education and mental wellness in a COVID-filled atmosphere," said Dubbs. "Anna led meetings with our county health department to establish protocol to restart athletics.  She worked with staff and county/state officials to allow fans to safely attend games.  Anna spent countless hours setting and enforcing guidelines and policies so activities could safely return. She continues to monitor all sports and activities daily."

When Mrs. Garafolo had to contact-trace and quarantine a few athletes, she did it professionally. Families appreciated the individual conversations to answer questions and fears.  By having extracurricular events this fall, student participants had a boost of motivation to excel in school so they could participate in these activities.  During this unique fall season, students exhibited an enhanced awareness of teamwork, respect, and caring for one another.

"Anna's emphasis that we are 'all in this together' led to championships in football, soccer and cross country," said Dubbs. "Our girls soccer finished in the sweet 16, and cross country saw a 5th place state meet finish for our girls and a state runner-up for the boys. Even our middle school won a state-level championship. It took leadership, organization, and passion to successfully complete all fall sports without being halted for COVID-19. Anna welcomed the rule of going the 'extra mile' to allow our kids to have a memorable season."

The marching band had their entire competition band season cancelled, but they continued to work on their show and perform at half time during games. Mrs. Garafolo felt their disappointment, so when the football team had a Saturday night playoff game, she had the band spotlighted on a Friday night. With her inspiration, the athletes returned the favor by bringing spirit and a cheering section to watch the band’s performance. The football team created a tunnel for the marching band to run onto the field.  It was such a fun evening emphasizing that all students and their passions are important. 

Mrs. Garafolo is also vital to the district’s wellness program.  She is the driving force of the wellness program by communicating, participating, motivating, and supporting all staff and community members. She implemented a monthly newsletter with tips, links, resources, and strategies to support mental and physical health. 

Mrs. Garafolo's hard work and dedication is evident to all who surround her. Her enthusiasm, perseverance, and commitment are inspiring to all staff members and students.  She is an employee who lifts others up with a smile, encouraging words, and solutions. She has the mindset that “positive thoughts lead to positive results.”

"Anna's skills, knowledge, willingness to help others, and dedication to our district and the community has been invaluable," said Dubbs. "She unquestionably merits this award for making a positive difference with students, staff, workplace and community."

Comments (34)

Brad Conner Posted over a year ago

As a local Funeral Director, Anna was called on as the school liaison for a high profile, very well-loved gentleman who tragically died in a car accident. Due to the large number of people attending and the fact that he was so well known within the school and community, the funeral was held in the high school gym. The way in which she orchestrated the school details and participants will always be remembered as one of the reason that the celebration of life was so flawlessly orchestrated. Thank you Anna for all of your efforts, way above and beyond your normal school administration duties.

Barbara Haxton Posted over a year ago

Good Job Anna and of course I'm not surprised. Clearly your leadership and your ENERGETIC focus on the students and the district have brought you this honor. Well deserved. I miss getting to wave at you across the street. stay well!

Jamie Manley Posted over a year ago

Anna is an all-around class act. She exudes positivity and brings out the best in others. No challenge is too big for Anna. She puts 110% in to everything she does and into the relationships she builds with others. She is a blessing to our school and community. She is a true LifeChanger for the Village of Waynesville and well deserved of this recognition.

Tracy A Reeves Posted over a year ago

Anna Garafolo leads by example and with her whole heat. As you can see from all the things that she is involved in she is a very busy lady! Anna does not let her busyness get in the way of reaching out to everyone she encounters. She genuinely cares for each and every person in this district and in this community. Her smile and energy is contagious. She goes above and beyond for everything she commits to. She is very deserving of this recognition. Congratulations Anna, your nomination is well deserved!

Alana Young Posted over a year ago

Waynesville is extremely blessed to have Mrs. Garafolo working on our side. She truly puts the community first and goes above and beyond to make sure all of its needs are met. She works hard continuously with a smile (behind her mask). She steps in to coach when needed all while juggling being a mom of two young boys! Anna is a gem and Waynesville is better because of her!

Melissa Ferguson Posted over a year ago

How wonderful to see Anna as a nominee for this award! I first knew Anna as my fourth grade student at Waynesville Elementary many years ago! Even then, she was a hard-working, kind, motivated young lady always striving for excellence. A few years ago, she became my teaching colleague, working side by side with me to teach Reading/Language Arts. Though it was a new grade level for her and I felt I helped her in any way needed, I truly learned as much from Anna as she did from me. Anna is creative, innovative, and full of ideas; her willingness to share with me enabled my students to reap the rewards of these lessons and ideas in addition to her own students. It’s an example of how Anna truly changes lives. Later Anna became an assistant administrator, and her warm heart showed in her interactions with staff and students. She created a caring, fun, happy environment for all. Anna was even willing to be made into an ice cream sundae to motivate students to support our school! Her positivity radiates throughout the district! When a student or staff member is troubled or discouraged, Anna responds with love and encouragement. That response can, and does, change lives. Thanks to Anna, our elementary now has a fund-raising booth at our local Sauerkraut Festival. There are not enough words to describe the time and work she put into this endeavor for the benefit of the elementary students. She started an after-school program for our elementary children to make blankets for the residents of our local nursing home. She’s organized field trips, coached the tennis team, led our district United Way campaign, hosted back-to-school staff picnics... we call her the “Energizer Bunny” because I don’t think she sleeps! Anna is always thinking of what else she can do for her school, students, staff, community... Personally, she is one of my favorite people. She is so deserving of this award and recognition. Congratulations, AJ, on your well-deserved nomination!

Judy O’Rourke Posted over a year ago

You are most deserving of this award. Congratulations! You are a valuable asset to the Waynesville schools.

Mike Holweger Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to Anna "The Energizer Bunny" Garafolo on this well-deserved nomination. Anna's genuine, optimistic attitude and extraordinary energy level fuel her substantial "life-changing" influence. AJ loves helping others and she is one of the most inspiring servant-leaders I have ever known. Anna wants the absolute best for all of the students in Waynesville and her consistent work ethic is unmatched. I feel fortunate to have her as my athletic director and I appreciate all of the sacrifices she willingly makes so that our players, our teams, and the community can have the best experience possible. Everything she does is first class and she goes above and beyond what most people do for others. I can think of no better recipient for this award because in every sense, Anna is a LifeChanger!!

Julie Gray Posted over a year ago

Anna always makes me feel like I am good at what I do and that I matter! No matter what the circumstances, she is uplifting and encouraging to those she works with. She is a consistent light for our district! A well-deserved nomination!

Brant Benson Posted over a year ago

Anna is an amazing leader in our community and is well dissevering of the nomination and award.

Holly Northern Posted over a year ago

Anna is such a sweet person and a great leader/role model for Wayne local schools. My daughter absolutely adores her. She goes above and beyond for the kids and their education.

Stephanie Karasek Posted over a year ago

I cannot imagine our schools without Anna. She gives encouragement to our school district and that extends to the families. Her genuine care for the students shows. She is a problem-solver and she includes everyone. I feel that she looks at every child as her own, she treats everyone with kindness, giving support, solving problems, making things happen. She is truly amazing. My first encounter with Anna was through the PTA, about 2 years ago, she gave a presentation on the Waynesville Way - wow! I was so impressed with her goals and the path to meet those goals. In the hardest year for schools, students, and families, I have seen her take those challenges and what seemed impossible roadblocks - and turn them into unique solutions where everyone was happy. She has been a life changer to my family, we are forever grateful for Anna.

Jeremy Herzberg Posted over a year ago

Anna's desire to help the kids in these uncharted times was unwavering. She has personalized her position and shown honest and sincere appreciation and concern for all. From daily school operations to every sporting event and all the work that goes on in-between. Her drive to make things the best for all kids and families with true compassion and empathy and has been the one constant. She has made sure that all their voices are heard and has been steadfast in her mission to protect the kids physical and emotional well being. She truly does make the world a better place, and gives me as a parent comfort in knowing she is involved in my kids lives. I tell everyone I know in and outside our district what a life changer she is and did so long before she was nominated for any award.

Karen Baileoy Posted over a year ago

Anna smile tells it all. She shows her love for the students and our school. Great job.

Zack Posted over a year ago

Trying to summarize all of what Anna Garafolo has been and continues to be for our community is impossible for me. Every good thing you’ve heard or read about her, in truth; is modest compared to the extensive works throughout her life. I’ve actually known Anna since the mid 80s(pausing for a moment realizing how old I feel writing that). I’ve witnessed her capacity for compassion, grace, and intellect. Not just a few times, but literally every year since. The years I wasn’t present to witness them, I’d heard about from other members of the community, not to mention my own family. The passion that she not only possesses but demonstrates literally every day I believe started with her parents. They also were/are very involved with the community and with our schools. I feel Anna adopted the absolute best characteristics from every good role model she had, and then cranked them all up to 11. I can confidently say I’ve never known another person that so eagerly and fiercely will try to help her students, school, and community. As an educator, she’s the type that will work tirelessly to help a student not fall behind, or find a way to relate to the student(something I’ve admired the majority of my life). As a leader, and I don’t say this lightly but with the full weight of how it’s intended; Anna is the kind of leader that will be the first to step foot onto the battlefield, and the last to leave it. And finally(because I’m sure this is running on by now), as a member of the community, she stays involved with current local affairs and speaks up for what is right. Now I’m not saying we always agree on everything, but I can attest to how professional and poised she is when testifying to the community and governing bodies in the surrounding area. Nothing against the other candidates, but I simply can’t fathom how they could be considered better. Disclaimer: There are many grammatical errors throughout this “comment”. Please don’t let that detract from the sincerity of what was written. Kid woke up in the middle of the night and apparently this was a great idea at 2:55 am

Sarah Jacobs Posted over a year ago

Anna is so deserving of this award! She has gone above and beyond to make sure athletes have had a safe and successful season. Anna attends many sporting events to support the teams. I'm not sure how she does it all! Even during the most stressful times, Anna is always friendly and positive with a smile on her face! We are so lucky to have Anna in Waynesville!

Heather Robinson Posted over a year ago

Mrs Garafolo is our favorite person in Waynesville School. Her kind manner along with genuine concern for others is admirable. We truly appreciate and love her. Thank you for all you do!

Misty Hanshaw Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Anna Garafolo! I can’t think of a more deserving person. You have done so much for our community and schools. We are beyond blessed to have you!!

Wilma Watson Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to Anna Jo and to Waynesville school. Having known Anna all her life, I am not surprised by Mr Dubbs comments. She has a heart of gold and it is filled with Waynesville pride. She is so deserving of this award. Proud of you Anna and the Educator you have become! Love you and what you have become to Wayne Local School, Waynesville students and the Community of Waynesville a “Life Changer” Wilma Watson

KC Posted over a year ago

First of all, she’s just an amazing person that I feel fortunate we have crossed paths. She had my daughter in 4th grade and she had a wonderful impact on my daughter not only as an educator, but as a positive role model. She also tutored my son and helped him out immensely with reading. Thank you for all you do Anna Jo!

Tina Brown Posted over a year ago

Very much deserved! I know how much hard work you put into this year! Our seniors (and the moms) love you for that! This is definitely a year for the history books! Thank you for being a second mom to each and every boy out on that football field this year! They will never forget it!

Jenn Green Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! You deserve the nomination! You have so many obstacles to deal with and yet you have done a phenomenal job! I appreciate all you do and the heart you have for our kids and our community. You always have a smile on your face. We are blessed to have you. I thank you for all you do!

Melanie Ray Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on your nomination! I cannot think of a more deserving person. You are one of Sarah’s favorite teachers. You always went above and beyond for her. When she was having difficulties, you were always there to support her. When it was Simon’s turn to have you as a teacher, you were his favorite. He loved your class. When we needed additional support for Simon with his IEP, you stepped in. You were always available to me when I had questions or needed help. That’s hard to find. You definitely went above and beyond for my kids and me. Thank-you for being a great teacher and administrator.

Kathy Hale Posted over a year ago

Anna has always been the goal-oriented, community-minded, giving, caring person who she is today and who Mr. Dubbs described so well in this nomination. I can’t imagine anyone who is more deserving of this award! Congratulations, Anna!!

Karen McGillivray Posted over a year ago

I’m not surprised by this at all. Your desire to make Wayne Local Schools and our community a better place is infectious. Thank you for all you do and your passion behind it! Congratulations!!

Ericka Hardin Posted over a year ago

So well deserved!! Mrs. Garafalo has a contagious passion for life and a genuine kindness and joy that somehow speaks straight to the heart with just a few words. I’ve seen her calm nerves of little ones on their first day, make a gym full of kiddos belly laugh, and inspire parents during what could easily be a boring mandatory meeting. My husband teaches at the high school and we are both are SO grateful for all the meaningful ways she is part of our “village.” Well done Anna!

Kendra McKamey Posted over a year ago

I sincerely appreciate Anna Garafolo going above and beyond to help our kids have their seasons. They worked too hard practicing and training for Covid to take it all away. She worked tirelessly for all of them, ensuring their seasons were not ruined by all of the new protocols. She showed up to all the games, even the away games. Even the games that we traveled over an hour or more for, she was there. The kids see how she supports them in every way she can. She truly has been a life changer for our Spartan students and parents.

Sheryl Fessler Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to Mrs. Garafolo. A well-deserving leader in our community, always has a smile for everyone, extremely friendly and hard-working.

Catherine Joefreda Posted over a year ago

Anna shows care and concern for all and is forward thinking. She connects with all age students in our district. She is highly respected by staff and all employees. Anna works very hard to find solutions and in the year of a pandemic she worked tirelessly to bring a sense of normalcy for all of the students, staff, and our community! She embodies “Spartan Pride”.

CHERYL RICHARDS Posted over a year ago

This is so awesome!!!! I am not surprised to hear you were nominated. Your passion for the school and community is evident in everything you do. You are dedicated, ambitious and determined. I am so happy for you. You certainly deserve this recognition. Congratulations, Cheryl Richards

Jeannie Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! Well deserved!

Sam Ison Posted over a year ago

I support all that Mr. Dubbs said about Anna Garafolo. She is a true asset to Wayne-Local Schools and the Waynesville Community! Nearly every minute of the day, Anna is either doing something for the schools/community or thinking of the next step to improve both for the benefit of others. She channels that exciting energy to get things done in all arenas. Anna is dedicated to Waynesville. She believes in doing as much as possible for as many as possible. I have watched her do all of the above during my 3 1/2 years at Wayne-Local Schools. She does not need to say she cares, her actions are the proof that she cares! The students in the athletic world have seen it first hand. She schedules the games, she schedules time to do fun "team-building" activities, she assembles gifts for recognition of success, she organizes college sport signings with family and friends, she video tapes events for those who are not there in person to watch, she networks with other athletic directors, she communicates with all of the stakeholders, she fills in as a substitute coach when necessary, she attends all of the events and she develops a newsletter with pictures and stats! Now if reading all of that alone would completely wear a person out but with Anna it is a passion and she never gets worn out! Her enthusiasm is contagious and the people around her are impressed. The athletes love her as do the coaching staff. Yes, you can see how truly deserving Anna Garafolo is of this recognition! I am honored to work with her! Sam Ison

Sarah Snyder Posted over a year ago

WELL deserved. Anna's dedication to Waynesville is second to none.

Bethany Lamb Posted over a year ago

Anna ! You are so deserving of this! You are so committed to our student body as well as staff and encouraging teamwork and support. You make our school a better place!