Position: Seventh Grade Science Teacher
School: Whitesboro Middle School
School District: Whitesboro Central School District
City, State: Whitesboro , NY
Music that Describes Meghan
Meghan Dote was nominated by Sarah Maliani, the parent of a student.
"My son was fortunate enough to be assigned to Mrs. Dote as his 7th-grade science teacher," said Maliani. "And I am beyond blessed to have her in my son's life. My son has been dealt some difficult cards in this game we call life. His hand of cards includes numerous mental health diagnoses, including anxiety and PTSD. From a bird's eye view, it would appear that his hand is undesirable- 'not playable.' Mrs. Dote is a LifeChanger because she has taught my son how to play his hand to maximize his desirable outcome. She has guided him to ensure his educational success and shown him that regardless of the hand he has been dealt, if he plays his cards right, he can execute a well-thought-out plan successfully.
I approached Mrs. Dote before school began in the fall and supplied her with a brief history of my son's mental state. I addressed my concerns about him transitioning into middle school and how something in school can be triggering. She promptly responded and asked if she could share the information I disclosed to her with her team of teachers to assist my son better. She also invited us to meet with her before school started so my son would have a familiar face on his first day of school. When I introduced my son to her, she immediately put her arm around him and indicated that she knew his history and that her room was safe. She assured him that he would be safe, and that she would always be there to talk to or come to if he ever needed anything. He was always welcome to go and see her. During their introduction, she made sure she connected with him with shared interests and broke the ice with him.
My son is an athlete, but unfortunately, due to past trauma, the athletic environment is the most triggering to him. Mrs. Dote has always had an open line of communication. When I advised her of this trigger, she communicated with my son's coaches for every season and every sport so that coaches were aware of my son's issues. Most importantly, she was my son's voice and advocated for him, as she knew my son did not want his fears in the athletic environment controlling his life and that he was determined to break down those barriers. She advocated the importance of this and made it clear that my son would need the support of his coaches to help him overcome these obstacles. There was a point when my son was so determined to overcome these obstacles that one day, when he was feeling significantly under the weather, Mrs. Dote noticed and advised my son to go to the nurse to be seen. My son refused to go as he knew if he went, he would not be able to participate in the following day's football game. Mrs. Dote immediately called me to inform me what was happening and that she would do her best to help my son finish his day. On this day, my son was struggling with a horrible migraine. She got him into an empty classroom (the teacher was still present) and had him complete his work in a quiet environment with the lights off. She emailed me updates and checked on him throughout the day. She went above and beyond to assist him.
My son often needs additional help and more time with his assignments; Mrs. Dote has sacrificed numerous lunches to sit and work with him to help him with assignments and pull up his grade...What I love most about Mrs. Dote is that she treats my son like her own child. I can go through my day without worries knowing he is in the building with her and has a safe place to go when he needs to regroup and get his fears off his mind. Most importantly, she is authentic and genuine to herself. She does not allow her role to make her appear superior to her students. She has a unique way of connecting with her students at their level—my son and her bond over sports, demonstrating that they are equal.
Mrs. Dote has been beyond impactful with my son's educational success and personal success. She made his transition into middle school seamless and, most importantly, helped him overcome obstacles; instead of shielding them from my son- she helped him through them. Because that's life, overcoming obstacles and playing your cards right. Mrs. Dote has done nothing less than create a safe environment (physically and mentally) for my son, teach him the most important life lessons, and demonstrate to my son how students should and can be respected by teachers and adults, all while teaching him about plant cells, endoplasmic reticulum, and biology. She not only has been a LifeChanger, but she has been a game changer in both of our lives."