LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Terri Lenzenhuber

Position: Early Childhood Special Education Paraprofessional
School: Montgomery City Elementary School
School District: Montgomery County R-II School District
City, State: Montgomery City, MO

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Terri Lenzenhuber was nominatee by a colleague, Kim Clements.

Ms. Lenzenhuber has spent the past 16 years as the Early Childhood Special Education Paraprofessional for the Montgomery County R-2 School District. In that time, she has made an impact on the lives of countless students. These children come to know her as a friend, a teacher and source of comfort and calmness.

"Our district is in a small, rural area in the middle of Missouri," Clements explained. "For some of our students, coming to school when they turn 3 is their first experience outside of the home. It can be a scary time for any child, expecially those who may not be able to talk or walk. Our students have varying disablities and delays, ranging from speech delays to traumatic brain injuries and autism. Terri however, focuses on their abilities and what they can do, rather than what they cannot."

Ms. Lenzenhuber treats all students with kindness, patience and love. Where some may see limitation, Ms. Lenzenhuber only sees a chance to help a child overcome.

"They are all sweet little souls who deserve the absolute best," said Clements. "She encourages them, hugs them, and loves them unconditionally."

Ms. Lenzenhuber's job is not an easy one, and most who hold her position "burn out" within 3-5 years. She can often be heard saying "I will do this job as long as I can" and that "I get more from the kids than they get from me."

"As the teacher that gets to work along side her, she is an inspiration to me on a daily basis," said Clements. "As a co-worker she makes me want to be a better person. Her performace is outstanding. Aside from going the extra mile in our classroom, she shows up early each day for her morning gym duty to ensure the doors are unlocked right on time so that our students are not waiting outside any longer than needed in the cold."

Schools, as sad as it is, can be a place of gossip and catty behavior. Ms. Lenzenhuber does not engage in any way shape or form in this behavior. She creates a more positive culture within her building by upholding high moral and ethical standards, as well as doing what is right and just.

Ms. Lenzenhuber has made a difference in ways that are simply unmeasurable. For students on the autism spectrum she provides sensory input when she begins to see frustration. For children who are upset and non-verbal, she swoops in and provides a warm hug and lap, rocking the child until they are calm.

"In the 11 years we have worked together, I have witnessed these moments time and time again," Clements said. "I could list 1,000 instances where she steped up, stepped in and made a difference in a child's life. I know this not only as her co-worker, but also as a parent of a special needs child."

"During our sixth year teaching together, I learned I was pregnant," Clements explained. "At my 20 week ultrasound, I learned my son, Evan, had hydrocephalus. This condition resuts in a variance of delays from mild to severaly disabled. Evan's case was moderate to severe, but he has proved many doctors wrong. On his third birthday, he was able start in our program, and Mrs. Terri has helped him grow, learn, and feel love within our school community. As a parent, that is my greatest hope. That those entrusted to care and teach Evan do so to the fullest capacity. Terri does this. As a teacher, I am blessed beyond measure to have Mrs. Terri as my classroom para. As a parent of special needs child I am in awe of what she does on a daily basis.  She has not only changed our students lives, but mine as well."

Comments (31)

Mendi Grannemann Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of being Terri Lenzenhuber's supervisor for the past 10 years. She is an excellent paraprofessional who always displays kindness, compassion, understanding, love, and patience with all students. To me, she is the epitome of what a paraprofessional should be. As many others have said she is an excellent role model and teacher! Terri is also a wonderful person who always has time for others. She is a pleasure to be around and very humble. Throughout Terri's years as a paraprofessional she has truly changed many lives. She is incredibly deserving of this award!

Amanda Davis Posted over a year ago

I work in the same school district as Terri and she is a role model to us all! I have a child with special needs starting school next year, which is scary because the struggle is real when you have to leave your precious child in the care of another. However, when I know she will be with Terri that brings peace. We are blessed to have her in our school district!

Beth Cobb Posted over a year ago

Terri is a role model for sure! Her down to earth values, coupled with her kindness and compassionate ways, make her stand out among the rest.

Tasha Hawkins Posted over a year ago

Mrs . Terri is amazing !!!!!! She has been working with my children for at least four years or more now . She is great to the children and the parents . . She is very caring . We love Mrs . Terri and her class .

Cindy Ebbesmeyer Posted over a year ago

Terri is a wonderful person with such a big heart. She shows so much compassion to the children. I have learned so much from her and I think she deserves this award for everything she does. She is always making a student smile and making sure they have a great day. I loved working with her as she always brighten my day and helped me become a better person.

Danielle Greeves Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege of working with Miss Terri 3 years ago as a senior in HIgh school. I was cadet teaching in the class she is a para for and she is a phenomenal para! The kids love her, the teachers and other staff memebers love her, and so did i! I don’t know anyone more deserving of the life changer of the year award than Miss Terri!

Vickie Biggs Posted over a year ago

Terri's kindness and compassion are inspiring.

Amber Surls Posted over a year ago

I have not personally had a child in Miss Terri's class. However, everytime I visited the classroom for any reason, Miss Terri was always interacting with the children. If it be comforting a crying child, reading to the children, or playing a game to teach a skill, she has always been so kind and gentle to all the kiddos. Miss Terri is a very deserving and respected teacher.

Teresa Maylee Posted over a year ago

Ms. Terri is a wonderful teacher! She goes above and beyond for all her students! Lovely attitude in an amazingly lovely lady!

Julie Porter Posted over a year ago

Terri would be an excellent choice for Lifechanger of the Year Award. She demonstrates such calm kindness to her preschoolers. She often walks the hallways with one or two children who need a little extra attention and removal from classroom stimulation. She talks calmly and compassionately with the children as they deescalate from a stressful situation. Terri truly demonstrates a caring attitude not only to her students but to staff also. She is truly a positive influence in our school and we are fortunate to have her as part of our community!

Tawni Wollerman Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of working with Mrs. Terri for the last 6 years as the Speech-Language Pathologist for ECSE. Mrs. Terri shows us everyday what it means to be a teacher. To meet kids where they are and lift them up. To be professional when others are not. To be a kind friend. We have a saying in preschool...”What would Mrs. Terri do?” Is Mrs Terri perfect? No. But does she make all of strive to be our best selves for our students? Absolutely.

Courtney Lenzenhuber Posted over a year ago

Terri is such an amazing Woman, Mother, Aunt, Teacher and friend. She deserves this award and many more as she is truly gifted with the abilities she has to help children. I am so proud to call her my Aunt!! We love you Terri!! Courtney, M & J

Heather Warren Posted over a year ago

Terri works with my son on a daily basis, and she truly is the most caring, loving, compassionate teacher! Rylan was 3 when he started in her program and he latched onto Terri right away! Every morning I drop him off and she greets us at the door with the warmest smile. I am truly thankful to leave my son in such good hands everyday!

Jon Elfrink Posted over a year ago

Terri so deserves this award . I have known her for over 30 years and she is the most unassuming person I’ve ever met. Her love and devotion for children especially those with special needs is beyond measure!! I remember not knowing a thing about the Special Olympics 30 years ago yet she was a volunteer and loved every single moment of it!! By her example she helped solidify what my parents had taught me , if there’s someone who we may view as different because of an affliction that is no way to view another. We are all Gods creatures special in our own way and as a matter of fact Terri is one extremely special woman with a heart of gold for all of God’s creation!! Good luck Terri you are very deserving of this nomination and may the best person win.

Ann Scarlet Posted over a year ago

VERY SPECIAL LADY!!! Always has a smile

Laura Mertens Posted over a year ago

I've known Terri Lenzenhuber for many years. She is one of the most compassionate people ever. She shows humility, kindness, and integrity in everything she does.

Tammy Banks Posted over a year ago

Terri is a wonderful person and teacher. She knows kids and does an amazing job teaching them. She has the best disposition to handle any situation in the classroom. We loved her!

Ursula Lenzenhuber Posted over a year ago

Very deserved person.

Samantha Gossard Posted over a year ago

Ms. Terri has work with two of my children. She is amazing.

Erin Zehner Posted over a year ago

My daughter Alana , has hyrdo and spinal bifada, we got the privilege of have ms Teri as our para for 3 years , Alana loved her so much and she was so great with her and so involved with our lives in and out of school , always letting us know how much she cared for my daughter. I think this great and could not be happing to a better person .

Nancy Cobb Posted over a year ago

I have know Terri for over 35 years through our church. She is the most caring individual I know. All the children of our parish gravitate to her because the love they feel from her when they are near her. Her attitude is always very positive and if anyone deserves an award, it is she!

Vicky Giboney Posted over a year ago

Teri Lenzenhuber is deserving of this recognition. I only worked with her for a few years in the same building but saw how much she cares for each student. As Mrs. Clements said, "Teri is kind and compassionate to the children". She believes each child can be successful. She always has a smile.

Shirley Henke Posted over a year ago

She is a sweetheart just Wonderful with the kids and you can see on their faces they love her as much as she loves them

Melisa Felten Posted over a year ago

I have had the honor of working beside this sweet lady, Mrs. Terri and can tell you every word Mrs. Clements wrote about Terri is so true, without embellishment. While Terri instinctively knows what to do and I call it her God-gift, she is extremely humble about it all. She doesn't see herself as anything above and beyond anyone else. She is a true inspiration to me as a para-educator and more than deserving of this award. ?? you Mrs. Terri. #LCOY

Sarah Posted over a year ago

Woohoo! She's been my LifeChanger since 1986!

Christina Heichelbech Posted over a year ago

I am a parent of a son who's life was changed by Ms Terri. She will forever hold a place in our hearts.

Joanne Posted over a year ago

The emensity Terri’s compassion cannot be contained in written words. She is one of those rare individuals who can warm up any room they enter.

Bridget Cobb Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Terri is a kind and very caring person. She looks for the best in everyone. Terri is a wonderful asset to the children and staff she works with. She has a heart of gold and is very deserving of this award.

Jeannine Guyton Posted over a year ago

Thank you Miss Terri for all you do for the students at Montgomery county early childhood special education. It was an honor and a blessing to work with you

Mary Masek Posted over a year ago

I have taught Terri's children, and she was one of those parents that teachers love. Terri was so supportive of her children and always willing to do what she could do for our school. She is a kind and wonderful person!!

Jane Albers Posted over a year ago

Ms Terri is a loving, caring, gentle, sweet and kind person. The perfect combination to work with small children in the classroom setting!