LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Kathleen Gainey

Position: Science Teacher / Department Head
School: Covenant Christian High School
School District: Covenant Christian High School
City, State: Indianapolis, IN

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Kathleen Gainey was nominated by her colleague, Sarah Thompson.

Ms. Gainey could easily be described as a LifeChanger.  She is a LifeChanger for her students, as well as her teaching peers. She's a teacher who exudes energy, positivity, humility, and genuine kindness.

Ms. Gainey is currently the Science Department Head, and she teaches Integrated Chemistry, Physics (ICP), Forensics, and AP Chemistry.  She has taught freshman biology in the past.  In all of the various classes she has taught, she has been effective in teaching with differentiated instruction in mind. She consistently challenges her students while also recognizing the needs of each student's level and abilities. She is a pedagogical leader in her school, and she teaches with intentionality that matches her beliefs in teaching.  Her approach to teaching is effective and full of passion and creativity. Ms. Gainey's leadership in the department has created an environment of collaboration, new ideas, and quality pedagogical content. Despite her obvious exceptional level of knowledge and leadership, she is not above being one of the first to volunteer for the less than desired tasks that often fall upon teachers to complete. Thus, she is described as a servant leader.

Ms. Gainey has led many professional development sessions at Covenant, and her sessions are always a highlight to her peers.  She has instructed on formative assessments, differentiated instruction, and how to effectively implement technology in the classroom.  She has even led professional development days that outside educators have attended.  In addition to bringing ideas to her own department, she has been instrumental in school-wide initiatives such as peer-to-peer observations, batching and interleaving, and the introduction of technological tools.  

Ms. Gainey's students can often be found in her room before class, after class, and during lunch.  These students seek her academic help and advice, but they also enjoy her company and encouragement outside of classroom topics.  Her students say she helps them build confidence, inspires them, makes them love science, and genuinely cares about them. Her teaching peers have been known to go to her for advice on teaching techniques and technology integration. They enjoy collaborating with her on various topics. Ms. Gainey has a genuine enthusiasm and a smile that brightens the classroom and school community as a whole.

Ms. Gainey regularly reads and studies about how a child’s brain works and effective pedagogy to best support the needs of all students.  She has recommended resources for teachers in this area and interviewed a leader in the field of educational neuroscience so that her schools' teachers could interact with new ideas. She loves to learn, and this extra effort is evident in her classroom and her teaching methods, where she reaches her students where they are at.

"Kathleen teaches and leads by example with her humility and honest approach to life," said Thompson. "Her care for her students is evident.  She lives and works with the utmost of values and morals."



Comments (52)


Andi Shriner Posted over a year ago

Kathleen has so much joy in teaching, it's inspiring to work with her. She loves her students and goes above and beyond with each one of them. She is an intentional teacher and invests in not only the academics of her students but also in their overall well being. She makes herself available to her students, even when it might not be convenient for her.

Katie Thompson Posted over a year ago

I had Mrs. Gainey as a chemistry teacher during my sophomore year of high school. At the time, I went in with the attitude that I didn’t like chemistry. I left her classroom at the end of the year feeling confident in my academic skills of chemistry and also confident that I had a teacher like Mrs. Gainey who believed in me, was always there to challenge me, answer questions, go above and beyond with support, resources, and her time. Now looking back as an education major at Butler University, I see that Mrs. Gainey did so much more than I realized in the moment. She put relationships first and the way she taught was accessible to all students. She frequently assessed students to understand how to differentiate and individualize instruction for all. Even after I left high school and only spent 1 year in her classroom, Mrs. Gainey made an extra effort to stay in contact and support. She supported my college extracurriculars and has made an effort to catch-up over meals. I’m thankful for this life changer- Mrs. Gainey!

Anna Cooper Posted over a year ago

I had Mrs. Gainey 3/4 years at covenant! She is amazing! She worked with every student to make sure they were getting the help they needed and she would constantly give up her time to help me! Her classes weren't easy, but she was so helpful and a great teacher! She also knows how to have fun and make her students laugh! She loves every student with her whole heart and it shows! She lights up a room and she has changed so many kids’ lives including mine! Truly an importation!!

Macy White Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey was the best teacher I have ever had. She went above and beyond to ensure that all of her students grasped every concept and prepared me for college chemistry. She is the absolute best!

Suni Johnson Posted over a year ago

We've been blessed by Mrs. Gainey through Covenant Christian High School. So far she has taught our oldest two children and brings a creative and intentional teaching style to the classroom. We're so grateful for her determination to find what ways work best for each child to learn at their pace and in their own unique way.

Katie Thompson Posted over a year ago

I had Mrs. Gainey as a chemistry teacher during my sophomore year of high school. At the time, I went in with the attitude that I didn’t like chemistry. I left her classroom at the end of the year feeling confident in my academic skills of chemistry and also confident that I had a teacher like Mrs. Gainey who believed in me, was always there to challenge me, answer questions, go above and beyond with support, resources, and her time. Now looking back as an education major at Butler University, I see that Mrs. Gainey did so much more than I realized in the moment. She put relationships first and the way she taught was accessible to all students. She frequently assessed students to understand how to differentiate and individualize instruction for all. Even after I left high school and only spent 1 year in her classroom, Mrs. Gainey made an extra effort to stay in contact and support. She supported my college extracurriculars and has made an effort to catch-up over meals. I’m thankful for this life changer- Mrs. Gainey!

Tyler Wildman Posted over a year ago

Kathleen is a consummate professional who is a pleasure to work with. She makes our school better through her dynamic and cutting-edge teaching methods, and through her relational teaching style. Students want to be scientists and doctors after they go through our science program, and Kathleen's in-class leadership and departmental leadership are to be credited for that interest. I am proud to work with someone like Kathleen, someone who shows up every day to do her best work, to teach all of her students, and to make everyone around her and associated with her better in the process.

Laura Shinn Posted over a year ago

Ms. Gainey is a wonderful teacher.

Reece Butler Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey deserves this. She is a life changing teacher and loves on everyone she knows.

Donald L. Cassell, Jr. Posted over a year ago

I support Ms. Kathleen Gainey nomination.

David Posted over a year ago

As her colleague, I have grown so much as a teacher. She makes everyone around her better. Not only do her students benefit, but so does her whole school community. It is a privilege to work with her! Her passion , preparedness, and skill inspire others.

Hannah Crane Posted over a year ago

I had Mrs. Gainey as my chemistry teacher sophomore year, and she changed my life. She has such a passion and a love both for her students and for the subject that makes the class really fun! I chose to take AP Chemistry my junior year and all summer long I was looking forward to having Mrs. Gainey as my teacher again for another whole year! I knew that she truly cared about me and wanted me to succeed, not only in her class but beyond. I am so thankful for the two years I had as a teacher!

Mechelle Posted over a year ago

Kathleen is the perfect example of someone who changes and impacts lives every day by putting her faith into action. Proud to call her a friend!

Dillon Gonderman Posted over a year ago

Kathleen is one of the most kind, empathetic, intelligent people I know; those traits translate perfectly to her chosen field. She makes the lives of those around her better !

Emily Campbell Posted over a year ago

This woman deserves this award! As her friend, I have heard Kathleen process and overcome challenges in teaching over and over again. She pushes the boundaries in order for all her students to flourish in unique ways that work for them. I love hearing about ways she is able to keep fun and light-heartedness in the classroom as well! It seems to be the right balance for kids to grow and learn in the best environment. She is changing each one of her student’s lives. There is no doubt!

Kelly Posted over a year ago

I’m excited to see Kathleen nominated for this! In the short time I’ve know her, her deep care for her students has been clearly evident. It goes beyond their academic success-she truly cares about how they are being formed as people! She is loving and giving and very deserving of this honor! It’s a privilege to know her!!

Sean Gonderman Posted over a year ago

Could not be prouder of you Kathleen! Your dedication to your craft and to your students is truly inspirational. Educating and guiding the next generation is one of the most important tasks anyone can take upon themselves and I can’t think of a more passionate and capable person to do it than you. Wishing you nothing but the best, Sean

Mechelle Posted over a year ago

Kathleen is the perfect example of someone who changes and impacts lives every day by putting her faith into action. Proud to call her a friend!

Jade Williams Posted over a year ago

What a well deserved nomination. As a friend of Kathleen’s, I know just how much time, thought, and energy she dedicates to her teaching and to the lives of her students. She is full of heart and is always striving to create the best learning environment, tailored individually to the needs of each student. I am confident she is changing lives regularly, especially during such a trying year where students need support and care now more than ever. Way to go, Kathleen!

Melissa Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey is always energetic, and very kind and encouraging to students.

Christina Dooley Posted over a year ago

Kathleen has been such a light and sweet friend to our family. I am always amazed by the attention she gives our boys. Kathleen (& Josh) are good friends of the family. Even when we would invite them over to spend time as grownups, our boys (ages 10, 14, & 16) couldn’t wait to share with Kathleen what was going on in their lives and her attention to them was so encouraging. When my 16 year old had questions about Chemistry at his own school, he knew he could ask Kathleen. And our 10 year old couldn’t wait to play whatever new game there was to play or share the latest Harry Potter news. Her love for children and her enthusiasm to help others learn is infectious. Knowing the time and effort that she puts forth to make sure every child is valued and heard and paid attention to is so important. I believe Kathleen goes above and beyond what it takes to make sure her students succeed.

Josh Posted over a year ago

When I think of Kathleen the words dedication and grace immediately come to mind. I’ve honestly never met an individual so committed to building relationships with her students. I know that Kathleen continues to stay in touch with her students even after they graduate and become adults. She truly cares for their well being. I mention grace because she doesn’t skip a moment to offer humility when her students have a bad day or if they are behind on assignments. She understands the grace that’s been giver to her and passes that on to everyone she meets.

Addy Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey is a wonderful teacher and totally deserves this award. She is incredibly sweet and able to manage a hectic classroom while still being down-to-earth and honest about her faith with her students. <3

Ella Crane Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey is such an amazing teacher. She makes everything so fun in the classroom, and she is such a great example for all of us highschool kids who are growing and trying to figure out who we are. She is such a positive person and she loves all of her students well. She totally deserves to be nominated for this lifechanger award.

Chris Waters Posted over a year ago

Way to go Kathleen!!! Teachers have the ability to make such an impact on people’s lives and you are such a testament to that gift. Any student would be lucky to have you as their teacher and mentor. I couldn’t think of a better person to be nominated for this honor!

Allyson Posted over a year ago

Thank you for the constant encouragement you give my daughters. They learn so much from your class. Your positivity towards teaching makes teaching fun and retainable.

Lilly Kolthoff Posted over a year ago

Mrs.Gainey made me fall in love with the different studies and has almost been a great role model and mentor for me at Covenant

PBS Posted over a year ago

I had Mrs. Gainey as a teacher. She was an excellent lecturer an deeply cared about her students. Part of the reason why I chose my major, based in the health sciences, is because of Mrs. Gainey. She had an extraordinary impact on my college and career choice. I would recommend mrs. Gainey both for the impact she has had on my life, and because of her excellence in teaching. She fits the definition of a life changer.

Jeff Reichanadter Posted over a year ago

Thank you Kathleen for serving, loving, leading, mentoring. When I see you in the hallway, you bring energy, passion and a smile that can be detected even behind a mask. You serve outside of school as well and I'm so grateful for the ways you have blessed our community through your generous hospitality. Our family is honored to have you teaching our children and present in our lives!

Kaya Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey is by FAR my favorite teacher!! She honestly has a servant’s heart and you can tell she truly cares about her students and the people around her! I love her so much and she deserves this, so happy for her!??

Matthew Dix Posted over a year ago

Kathleen, I have the privilege of knowing you as a coworker, a fellow member of Common Ground, and as a friend. And you excel in all of these. You love passionately and care deeply, even through your own suffering. Thank you for supporting me through a really hard time, even as you were going through difficulties yourself. Thank you for making delicious pasta and having my wife and I over, and I look forward to having you over once it is safe. Hopefully no cats will die this time around...

Natalie Sexauer Posted over a year ago

Congrats Mrs gainey!! You so deserve this award! You are such a great teacher and person and inspire me so much. Thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for being there for me and all the prayers and love!!

Jane Taylor Posted over a year ago

Kathleen's passion for her faith, her students and her subject inspire me! Her positive attitude energizes me and I have learned so much from our conversations about pedagogy. I am so blessed to have Kathleen as a colleague.

Christy Lyons Posted over a year ago

This award is going to a well deserved teacher. Mrs. Gainey, you made a subject we thought would be difficult for our son an achievable goal. However you teach in class made the content come to life and our son never wanted to miss. Therefore, he was able to keep an A/B average in a class he thought that wouldn't happen. Whatever you have done and continue to do, we are so very grateful that you share your experience with our son and the kids at Covenant. Thank you.

Tamara Overpeck Posted over a year ago

Kathleen, YOU make a difference in the lives of our students and their families. You have a way of presenting difficult curriculum in fun, easy-to-understand ways. Your students gravitate toward you and your love for science. It is a pleasure to work alongside you! Tammy

Clara Malek Posted over a year ago

I love you, Mrs. Gainey!!! You are an incredible teacher, and every year that you've been my teacher you have been the light in my schedule. The care and love that you feel for your students is obvious to everyone you encounter, even during virtual learning.

Shelley Notter Posted over a year ago

I’m so pleased to see that Mrs. Gainey is nominated for this. All three of my girls think she is not only an amazing teacher, but also a wonderful person. She makes chemistry fun and is certainly most invested in learning over perfection. She is a joyful presence in and lit of the classroom and creates a safe and engaging environment for students. We are blessed to have her!

Heather LeFebvre Posted over a year ago

Thank you for all you have done/are doing for four of our children! Beginning with our oldest you have inspired our kids to enjoy learning and be interested in science! Thank you for putting your heart and soul into your teaching

Rebecca Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey has quite literally changed my life. Before I took her chemistry class sophomore year, I just assumed science wasn't my thing. However, Mrs. Gainey's passion for the subject motivated me to take AP Chemistry, and from there I just absolutely fell in love with it and plan to major in it in college. Without her, I don't think I would have found the subject I'm most passionate about. Thank you so much Mrs. Gainey!

KELLI B TRUJILLO Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Gainey's passion and enthusiasm for science is contagious. Her warmth, joy, and love for her students comes through in every single interaction I have with her. She truly is a life-changer. As a parent, I saw the impact her impassioned teaching had on my son; his time in her classroom truly catalyzed his love of science and he is now considering further studies in this area in college. I am so glad to see Mrs. Gainey nominated here--I already consider her to be a life-changer!

Dana Croner Posted over a year ago

Kathleen is an amazing person, teacher, mentor, and friend to her students and graduated students. She always goes the extra mile...literally...showing up to support our college daughter by running a 5k in the freezing rain to support a philanthropy project. Kathleen- you are a blessing to all who know you!!

Amanda Posted over a year ago

She is simply the best teacher with the biggest heart for students. Well deserved nomination!

Cindy Pelley Posted over a year ago

I love Kathleen Gainey!! Not only was she my daughters teacher, I worked alongside her to combine her high school Forensic classes with my middle school forensic unit. What an exciting time we had in the STEM lab!! Her expertise and love for her students along with doing what she loves is amazing. I am thrilled that Sarah has nominated her!

Chris Waters Posted over a year ago

Way to go Kathleen!!! Teachers have the ability to make such an impact on people’s lives and you are such a testament to that gift. Any student would be lucky to have you as their teacher and mentor. I couldn’t think of a better person to be nominated for this honor!

Joann Richardson Posted over a year ago

Kathleen it sounds like you are a light on a hill in your community! What a beautiful testimony to using the gifts you have been given for the sake of blessing others. I know that we are blessed by your desire to grow and share what you have given in our small group community. What a great occasion to “celebrate”!!

Kelly Posted over a year ago

I’m excited to see Kathleen nominated for this! In the short time I’ve know her, her deep care for her students has been clearly evident. It goes beyond their academic success-she truly cares about how they are being formed as people! She is loving and giving and very deserving of this honor! It’s a privilege to know her!!

Linda Has Posted over a year ago

So glad to see Kathleen honored as a LifeChanger! She is every hour of every day. She is planting seeds for young minds. She is a model to be a science nerd for so many young girls! She Cares -with a capital C - about students who need extra affirmations to build their confidence in themselves Her gentle and loving spirit is needed today. And she just happens to be a classroom teacher too! It’s a better world ?? with Kathleen in it!

Kelly Posted over a year ago

I’m excited to see Kathleen nominated for this! In the short time I’ve know her, her deep care for her students has been clearly evident. It goes beyond their academic success-she truly cares about how they are being formed as people! She is loving and giving and very deserving of this honor! It’s a privilege to know her!!

Brooke Tandy Posted over a year ago

I concur with the entire detailed description of Mrs. Gainey. As a former colleague, I have witnessed her dedication to her students and her subject area time and time again. She is amazing!

Olivia Posted over a year ago

Kathleen you are absolutely a life changer, and the way you care for and about your students is inspiring! I wish I had you for a science teacher in high school!!

Robert Gonderman Posted over a year ago

She is very exceptional.

Kelly Gonderman Posted over a year ago

Kathleen is a beautiful person and we couldn’t be prouder to be her parents!