LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Susan Young

Position: Fourth Grade Teacher
School: Doral Academy of Northern Nevada
School District: Doral Academy of Northern Nevada
City, State: Reno, NV

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Susan Young was nominated by a parent, Lori O'Leary. O'Leary's eldest daughter, Keira, had Ms. Young for fifth grade. Keira has always loved school and worked hard to get good grades.

"Ms. Young encouraged her to challenge herself. My husband and I noticed that Keira flourished in Ms. Young’s class and truly came into her own, focusing more on enjoying learning rather than the letter grade….which resulted in higher grades," O'Leary said. "We recognized that Ms. Young has a unique ability to connect with each student. She was the first teacher to take the time to understand and get to know Keira and and support her own personal growth and learning."

Over the last summer, O'Leary learned that Ms. Young was changing schools because she wanted the opportunity to help open a new K-4th charter school and create a close parent-school environment within it. Not knowing much about the school, but having full faith in Ms. Young, O'Leary decided to enroll her youngest daughter, Reagan, so she could have Ms. Young as her fourth grade teacher. Reagan has dyslexia and has always been several grade levels behind in reading and math. She hated school, and completing homework was a nightmare that usually resulted in tears. Her teachers would say that she was “just a little behind,” and they’d give her better grades than she deserved.

"I met with Ms. Young in August to discuss Reagan. Ms. Young was the first teacher to agree Reagan was significantly behind. She wanted to create a team plan with Reagan, herself, my husband and I, to support Reagan," O'Leary recalled. "She wanted to know what she could do to help Reagan, what motivated her and what the obstacles were. She supported Reagan the way that Reagan needed."

Ms. Young teaches and demonstrates the important values of respect, responsibility, and support to her students. This makes her classroom a nurturing environment for every student, giving each student what they need. By instilling values of respect and teamwork within her classroom, she created a safe environment for Reagan, which is what she needed most.

"Reagan feels supported by her classmates and her teacher, rather than teased or embarrassed for making a mistake or reading slower than her friends," O'Leary said. "Ms. Young gave her the confidence to try and the understanding that a wrong answer is just a first step to getting it right and trying again is success in itself."

"In a few short months, I have a new daughter and Ms. Young has a new student," O'Leary continued. "Reagan now comes home and asks if she can read a few extra minutes at bedtime. She now does her homework without a comment from me and is proud to show me her completed work."

Reagan comes home from school smiling, excited to share what she learned or read at school and she loves to go to school every morning.

"I was in tears when she came home with her progress test results; she had surpassed her growth goal for the whole year in only 3 months, and her reading fluency score had doubled," O'Leary recalled.  "She has worked so hard and is thriving now. Her reading and math skills have taken off. I know that this drive, determination, and achievement were founded in Ms. Young’s classroom. She chose Ms. Young’s Christmas gift, which also made me cry."

The gift was monogrammed with “Thanks for making me a smart cookie!” With dyslexia, no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t succeed and she would say she was dumb. The support, encouragement, and environment that Ms. Young has given Reagan has made her believe and know that she is smart and capable of anything. 

Ms. Young has had a wide variety of life experiences which truly enrich her teaching. She has been a truck driver, been in the financial world, a small business owner, and an assistant principal, just to name a few. She came into her teaching career later than most teachers, but she found what she was meant to be. All of those experiences enhance her teaching because she has learned how to adapt in different situations and with different types of people. This is evident in the way that she teaches each student, not a classroom or one-size-fits most approach.

Ms. Young has also dedicated herself to making the entire school a positive, supportive, and encouraging environment. She encourages her 4th graders, who are the highest grade in the school, to be examples to all grades and to continuously foster a community environment in the school. She volunteers much of her free time to lead school committees, plan school activities, increase school-parent communication, and to assist the school’s principal with school governance and administration.

"Time and time again, she goes above and beyond to ensure that Doral Academy, and every student within it, can be the best it can be," O'Leary said. "Ms. Young has undeniably been Reagan’s LifeChanger…but she has also changed the lives of our entire family by bringing out the Reagan that we all knew was inside her, but we didn’t know how to reach. Ms. Young is, without a doubt, the best teacher that I have ever known. I only wish that I had a teacher that made such an impact on my life, as she has made on my daughters' and my family."

Comments (17)

Tanya Samudio Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on your nomination Ms. Young!! I love seeing such a deserving teacher here in Reno being recognized! A glowing reputation has been present in every conversation I have had with staff and parents whose children have been blessed to have you touch their lives. Lori mentioned that she put the nomination in after I shared Life Changer Of The Year with her...and you are definitely a deserving Life Changer!

Mike O'Leary Posted over a year ago

Ms. Young has visibly changed the trajectory of my daughter's life. My daughter will always remember the impact that she has made on her and will be the one teacher that she thinks of throughout her life. Ms. Young will continue to make an impact on my daughter throughout her life- in her work ethic, in her confidence, in her life decisions, in her relationships, and will influence her everyday.

Heather Price Posted over a year ago

I could not agree with this statement/letter more. Ms. Young is the absolute best teacher I could have ever hoped for my daughter to be placed with at Doral. She is kind, patient and understanding. She truly does take the time to get to know each student, and their family. Not an easy task, and even more rare these days. We are so blessed to have her in our lives. She deserves this award and many others. I wish I would have thought to nominate her!!!!

Susie Walker Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege of working with Susan for three years. She is well deserving of this award. As our assistant principal, she continuously went above and beyond to help us in anyway become the best teachers we could be. Although she was a fabulous administrator, she realized her heart belonged in the classroom. (Our loss ??) As evidenced by this nomination, it was truly the perfect placement. It is wonderful to hear how much she is impacting the lives of the young people (and their families) she teaches. Thank you for considering her for this award.

Windy Marquez Posted over a year ago

Ms Susan Young is The Teacher every Mother dreams of. She has Raised the Bar. Not only is she a champion and advocate of every child in her classroom (My Son Rayne included), she knows the name of all the children in the school! It’s crazy amazing! She meets everyone eye to eye- Students, Siblings, Parents, Colleagues, and Ms Young Listens- To anything and everything as needed. She has high expectations, and challenges everyone to meet them. She is the smartest, kindest, wildly gifted, extraordinary human. And we are blessed to be changed by Her. There is no greater gift to this earth, Ms Susan Young is the best example of Life Changer of the Year!

Susan Young Posted over a year ago

Ms. Young was the assistant principal where I was hired as an instructional coach. I experienced first-hand her dedication to students and the staff. She always had a smile and an encouraging word. Most importantly, Susan went the extra step to have deeper reflective conversations to encourage and support professional growth with her teachers.It was a pleasure to work with her and to grow professionally because of her.

Katie Motherway Posted over a year ago

Unfortunately, I am a little too old to be a student of Susan’s. But the next best thing to being a student of her teaching method is to be a colleague of hers! I am so glad that in the few months I’ve known Susan, she has demonstrated a great passion and live for her students. She has spoken knowledgeably about ways to teach children that inspire them to be passionate about their own learning, as described so eloquently by Ms. O’Leary. I know from experience that Ms. Young is so dedicated to being a teacher who meets racha student’s needs! I’m so moved by this parent ‘s account of both her daughters’ experiences, and hope to learn as much as I can from Susan while I’m blessed enough to be her colleague.

Ferne Brum Posted over a year ago

Ms. Young is wonderful! She is heading up the Safety Committee and opened her classroom for the French Club to have their meeting each week. I look forward to my son having her as a teacher in the future.

Nikki Capovilla Posted over a year ago

Susan is so deserving of this award! I worked with Susan for two years and she is an amazing educator. Everything she does is for the children. Susan has a positive outlook in everything that she sets her mind too and it is admiring. Please select Susan for this award. She completely deserves it.

Emilie Cates Posted over a year ago

Ms. Young is my daughter’s 4th grade teacher at Doral Academy of Northern Nevada this year. She is truly amazing and my daughter has flourished in her class. My daughter’s attitude, grades, and engagement are a 180 from where she has been in the past. She is truly disappointed if she cannot go to school and be with Ms. Young. I myself am an educator and she is definitely someone to aspire to be like. She is the reason that education has a bright future for our children and no one I have met in my career thus far is more deserving of this award than Ms. Young.

Laura Wilson Posted over a year ago

I agree with everything Lori wrote. She has fostered a love of learning in my son as well. He loves to go to school now and is excited to share with me what they did each day after school. I love that she meets with each student individually and helps them set goals for themselves. She gets to know them on a personal level which helps students connect with her more creating an optimal learning environment. There is no one more deserving of this award!

Charlotte Blake Posted over a year ago

My son is in Ms. Youngs class this year as well. She is an amazing teacher! She has high expectations and the children rise to that. I have been in the classroom when she holds her "class meeting". This is the time when she sits down with the class to discuss different behaviors, problems in the classroom and solutions. I have always helped weekly in my childrens classrooms and this is the first time I have seen a teacher hold a "meeting" like this. It is very effective! She truly cares about each child and wants them to succeed. I am so glad that my son has the chance to have such an amazing teacher.

Lindsay Posted over a year ago

You have a positive and enthusiastic attitude to your work and it shows! The students in your class are so lucky!

Joanne Posted over a year ago

I have the privledge to work side by with Susan. She is an amazing colleague, teacher, friend, mother, daughter, and mentor. She gives her all in all that she does. She is talented, artistic, creative, and innovative. She is compassionate, thoughtful, and kind. She fosters a classroom learning environment that embraces all students and their learning styles. She is an amazing human being and serves to be recognized and chosen for this award!

Annalisa Walker Posted over a year ago

I have known Susan for several years. She is very deserving of this award. She is a blessing to all students who are lucky to have had her as a teacher. She is an amazing educator!

Joanne Posted over a year ago

Susan deserves to win this!

Laurie Johns Posted over a year ago

Susan Young is well deserving of this award. She changes lives every day.