LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Dean Graziano

Position: Extended Learning Opportunity Coordinator (ELO)
School: Spaulding High School
School District: Rochester School Department
City, State: Rochester, NH

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Dean Graziano was nominated by his colleague Andrea Pastelis, former student George Farrow III, a former student who wishes to remain anonymous, and Larry Johnston, a brand ambassador for a local McDonald's franchise.

Mr. Graziano doesn’t just do his job; he consistently expands it and goes above and beyond what anyone can expect of an employee. As the ELO coordinator for Spaulding High School, he has made it his mission to personally meet with every employer in Rochester, NH and the surrounding area. On his first day on the job, he joined the chamber of commerce. 

"Through Mr. Graziano's ELO program, I was able to have two very beneficial and informative internships - one with the mayor of Rochester, and the other with the local department of Economic Development" one of his nominators said.

Although it isn't a responsibility of his position, Mr. Graziano regularly hosts job fairs in the school lobby to help students find jobs and internships in the community.

"The ELO opportunities Dean creates are unfathomable," Pastelis said. "He finds placements to meet just about every situation...for students of all academic abilities or interests. He even invites trade schools, community colleges and military recruiters."

"He worked with me to develop a fully custom internship which allowed me to go on a national Broadway tour as an audio/video engineer in my senior year of high school and earn credit for it," Farrow III said. "Mr. Graziano creates unique opportunities and pioneers and advances what education can be. He allows students to have a big voice in their educational paths and gives them learning opportunities that are not available in a classroom."

Mr. Graziano coaches students on appropriate dress, professional conduct and bus routes. He even covers bus fares and locates necessary dress slacks, safety boots and necessities until the student’s first pay check arrives. Mr. Graziano also goes out to the middle school and elementary schools to invite students to step in his “sandbox of opportunities.”

"If you are a member of Dean’s crew, then you know you have a support system that has your back," Pastelis said. "All students in the Rochester School District are at least tangentially touched by the tireless efforts of Mr. Graziano. He does way more than his job!"

"I have worked with Dean directly for the last four years," said Johnston. "He has consistently shown dedication to his students by helping them to obtain employment, both at McDonald's and other employers. Without Dean’s direction and encouragement, many of the students would not summon the confidence needed to seek employment."

Comments (37)

Anna Posted over a year ago

Just go to and see all the things Mr. Graziano does to change lives! As I read the criteria in winning this award, it is :given to the LifeChanger whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination. Please see the links below: Every story involves the ROCHESTER COMMUNITY! Students and building solid relationships is exactly what Mr. Graziano has done for four solid years. In addition, he won the ELO Coordinator of the year for New Hampshire in 2017 with the mayor and many local businesses testimony on his spirit and love for the community-HE DESERVES this award

Gage Brown Posted over a year ago

Mr. Graziano is a life-changer! In his senior exiting class, he helped me so much with looking for other employment, advice and just being there for ALL of us. He knew a lot of kids did not have/get breakfast and he continually brought in food out of his own pocket. He even met with students and secured free thanksgiving dinners from the local supermarket because he partners with them for job fairs and getting kids jobs, making sure no one missed the big meal. He is a REAL life-changer because he inspires, leads by example and makes everyone around him to try harder!

Joy Gobin ELO Coord. LHS Posted over a year ago

Dean embodies what a life changer does to impact his students the greater community. I have the pleasure of working with Dean. We have collaborated for the past 4 years as a fellow ELO Coordinators. We are from opposite parts of the state, I am form Lebanon HS, but our goals are the same: Create opportunities for all of NH's students. Dean is always willing to help his colleagues at every level from resources to time and everything that it takes to get the job done at the highest quality and with integrity. He is tireless in his pursuits to provide opportunities for all students. I am a 35 year educator who has worked with 1000's of people during my career and Dean is one of the best! He is a real life changer and deserves this award.

Terrill Covey Posted over a year ago

What does it mean to be a "life changer"? In my mind, that means that you have created an opportunity where one didn't previously exist - or was difficult to access - which changed another person's life for the better. By this definition, Dean Graziano is a clear choice for this award. Dean works tirelessly, both on the clock and off, to create and support opportunities for his students. Not only has Dean changed the lives of countless students, but he has also created opportunities for local businesses to train and secure a skilled workforce through the ELO program at Spaulding High School. In addition to his work changing the lives of his students and local businesspeople, he has also had an indelible impact on myself and other professionals in the field. Dean has worked with several people at local schools, and more distant schools, to promote ELO and work-based learning programs and help get them off the ground. I could go on all day about the impact Dean has had on the lives of his students, but his reach goes beyond the Rochester community. He has helped me grow as a professional, he has helped a number of other programs get off the ground, and in-so-doing, has tangentially had a positive impact on the lives of students and professionals who have never even met him. I cannot advocate strongly enough for Dean as Life Changer of the Year.

Louise Posted over a year ago

I have been a colleague of Dean’s for over 18 years. So many times, I worked closely attending workshops and collaborating on our infamous, interdisciplinary lessons (one was an entire school all discipline lesson!). I’ve seen Dean actually change student learning and many lives albeit AP scores to defer cost of college, SAT prep to ensure acceptance to colleges. More than just a teacher, no matter what he undertakes, he strives for success with relentless energy. If you know Dean, you know he’s changing lives around him. He is one of the most creative, innovative and excited educators I know. I have shared some and learned more. Dean’s outlook is contagious and his success equates to massive opportunities for our students.

Curtis Posted over a year ago

In my Junior year I had no idea what i was going to do with my life after High School. Thanks to this program I have a great opportunity to change my life.

Mason Taliaferro Posted over a year ago

Mr. Graziano has given me an amazing chance to further my education, while doing things i enjoy. He is there to support all of us and is changing lives along the way! The GBCC Workforce Development Program was a two year project he worked on-getting Rochester behind us and helping to make sure we have no cost for a $6000 program. He has SO changed my and the other 12 students in this new program.

Nate Willis Posted over a year ago

Mr. Graziano goes above and beyond to make sure his students are taken care of! He made the Great Bay program possible for all 13 of us, all of us are getting a free year of college and great education opportunity.

Michael Lovely Posted over a year ago

Thanks to Mr. Graziano, I am now a part of a program that will change my life in numerous ways. He does everything he can do help us with the program-even paying out-of-his own pocket to provide lunches, toolboxes and whatever we may need. Mr. G ALWAYS is there for every student. If you know Mr. G, you know HE IS A LIFECHANGER for Rochester students.

Gayle Chiodo Posted over a year ago

HI Dean,   Just want to say how wonderful it is to read about your impact on the students of the Rochester School District. You are giving them priceless life experience while they are still in high school. In all the years I have known you, you have always had a heart for your students. It is wonderful to see how your dedication to your students is benefiting them by your partnering with both businesses and Great Bay Community College .  I congratulate you for your caring and success in giving your students the life experiences required to make good, well informed decisions about their next steps after graduation from high school. Keep up the good work - you are a blessing to all the students you work with.

Logan T Goodwin Posted over a year ago

Literally a life changer, he has given me a life time opportunity to get a college tuition for free!

Gayle Chiodo Posted over a year ago

HI Dean,   Just want to say how wonderful it is to read about your impact on the students of the Rochester School District. You are giving them priceless life experience while they are still in high school. In all the years I have known you, you have always had a heart for your students. It is wonderful to see how your dedication to your students is benefiting them by your partnering with both businesses and Great Bay Community College .  I congratulate you for your caring and success in giving your students the life experiences required to make good, well informed decisions about their next steps after graduation from high school. Keep up the good work - you are a blessing to all the students you work with.

Tom Galvin Posted over a year ago

I partnered with Dean shortly after he arrived at Spaulding High School to work on programing ideas that would benefit both the students and the community. Dean is one of those guys who, put simply, gets things done. He’s dynamic in his approach and has clearly gained the respect of the student body he serves. That point more than any other speaks volumes about the individual and the value he lends to the student body and the community as a whole. Congrats Dean – you certainly earned the recognition

Lisa F Posted over a year ago

Mr.G. was my teacher and is certainly a lifechanger! From always holding AP history sessions on vacations to getting us better prepared for the test MrG always puts students first. There to listen, be creative in lesson plans to guiding and caring he did change so MANY LIVES. I remember him getting some National Teaching award, which there was no doubt he’d win, and he said everyone is a national teacher! All you have to do is look at his Facebook page and it’s comprised of so many former students that still see him doing what’s best for his students. Mr G you are a lifechanger for so many- good luck and thank you!

Linnea Hamberg Posted over a year ago

Mr G. is a lifechanger! As my educator he was awesome- even the US Dept of Education agrees awarding him a national award in 2007. He is passionate about his students and indefatigable in his pursuit of success with every student. His caring and determined approach made me a better student and in fact all those in our school ( teachers and students) Recently I saw he was ELO Coordinator of the year in NH and more evidence he is the best! When you review the candidates, know MR.G has lived, breathed and dreams how he can help students! Yes- he’s always been my lifechanger of the year!

William Hinton Posted over a year ago

Dean, I agree with your nomination.  Having worked with you for several years as a technical industry representative and a member of the Great Bay Community College staff, I am constantly reminded of your commitment to the students and your skill for thinking outside the box.  We all know the limitations of most school systems these days but you always find a way to get things done.  I wish you all the best as your nomination finds it way through the process.  I expect to celebrate your success.

Phil Przybyszewski Posted over a year ago

Congrats to Dean. I've only known Dean for a little over a year but from the very beginning it was clear that this was a man on a mission. His mission is to help his "kids" become successful in whatever they do. His work on the in-school composites program is a great example. He has been tireless and relentless in bringing the right folks and resources together to make that program a success. He is a great asset for Spaulding High School and the state of New Hampshire.

Carli C Posted over a year ago

Dean Graziano is definitely a life changer. When I look back at my years in high school when I had no clue where my life was headed, Dean continuously supported me and assured me I would uncover my passions and goals as long as I continued to push myself and to never give up. Assisting me not only in preparing for SAT's, but prepping me for college applications and ultimately my college choice, Dean also had a major impact on my personal life. While tutoring me in the strategies of the SAT's as well as how to write the perfect college application essay, Dean was also there to listen to my worries and to calm my nerves. With his understanding of who I was, Dean hired me as a dog walker for his two adorable dogs, Weiner and Max, who I would walk after school during the week which allowed me to unwind and to take time to myself to think and to consider my future. I can say with confidence that Dean had a major impact not only on where I went to college, but where I am today as a 2018 college graduate and a full-time employee at an admirable company in Boston. Without a doubt, Dean should be recognized as the Life Changer of the year.

Sophie B Posted over a year ago

The first time I met with Dean I could tell that he had a passion for teaching. I could tell he truly wanted me succeed. He always brought a positive vibe to every tutor session! He always wanted me to do my best and gave me the confidence to do so! Dean Dean the SAT machine, I can’t thank you enough for helping me reach my full potential! You’re the best!

Jacqueline Guillette Posted over a year ago

Dean Graziano is the real deal. He has touched and changed so many students' lives for the better. He does not know the meaning of "I am done. I have done all I can." He never seems to reach that point. If there is anything more he can do to help a student achieve success, Dean stays engaged and gets done what needs doing. He attends to details while always having the bigger picture, the horizon line in mind. A rare combination!!

Kerry Fortin Posted over a year ago

I have had the honor of knowing and working with Dean Graziano for the past five years. He is a rare gem of a person who enhances both the Rochester community and his local school system. Dean gives his students more than an education. He gives them goals, life fundamentals, support and most importantly, he gives them hope for a successful future. He makes his students believe in themselves as he believes in each of them. A number of years ago, Dean began hosting job fairs for his students to help open a pathway for employment opportunities. He helped them all through the interview process and even stood by the ones he knew needed extra support. He forged a web of employment opportunities for his students throughout the seacoast area of New Hampshire. For non-local jobs, he taught the students how to travel using public transportation. He would put the students on the bus and follow it to their place of employment (on his own time). He would follow up with his students and his employers to ensure his students were becoming exemplary employees. Dean built relationships with businesses that helped to support his vision for his students. He hosted many events where local businesses would discuss different career opportunities, how to budget money, manage personal finances and explain the path to higher education. Dean worked with the local businesses to create a group he called his “community partners”. The time and effort he put in with his community partners he was able to achieve sending 12 students to college debt free. Dean puts his heart and soul into his students. He gives his students opportunities they would not have without him. He has changed more than the lives of his students. He has changed lives throughout the Rochester community for many years to come. Dean has touched people more than he will ever know.

Dylan DiBernardo Posted over a year ago

Mr. Graziano is a life changer, he has given me an amazing opportunity with the program I am in, being able to go to college and not have any debt to pay back is one off the most amazing things I could have gotten and I have Mr. Graziano to thank for it. If he didn’t tell the senior class about it I would have missed out on this opportunity. Truly he does so much for the school and is changing lives all the time! College bound, thanks MR.G!!!

Sara Curtis Posted over a year ago

Mr. Graziano absolutely has my support!! If it weren't for this man and his determination and understanding, my son, Evan may not have all the opportunities he has open to him now. Mr. Graz helped Evan determine his love of machine tooling directed him to classes in areas that he could do well and enjoy what he was doing. He secured his first internship with Thompson Investment Casting here in Rochester in his Senior year that became a full-time job at Safran right out of high school. Evan now has a life skill and is off and running minus student loan debt and enjoying what he does. Thank you Mr. Graz!!! You truly helped change Evan's and our lives.

PJ Perkins Posted over a year ago

Mr G is a life changer. He made me motivated to come to school and do well again. Granted my GPA was always relatively high, he made me aim to make it higher. With being accepted into this program, I will do nothing but put my best foot down for Mr G because he did nothing but the same for me

Patrick Akeley Posted over a year ago

Mr Graziano is the life changer for the senior class at Spaulding with debt free tuition learning a very valuable skill to allow students to graduate and go right into the workforce

Aleiah Douglas Posted over a year ago

Mr. G is a life changer because he made it possible for me to go to college free of cost. He made it possible for me to have a great path in life, and break the mold of past times.

Bill Young Posted over a year ago

I fully support Dean Graziano as lifechanger of-the-year! Knowing Dean for 4 years I and most of Rochester, NH know he has one main focus and that’s to provide the best possible student opportunities for our kids no matter what. From helping him set up at 6 am for his monthly job fairs ( over 270 kids got jobs) from his efforts to handing out packets at his evening career fairs where the Commissioner of Education has spoken, Dean gets community partners involved. They see what everyone does, Dean works hard on improve the lives of our students and even educators getting many donations for programs, events and classrooms. This year 13 students will receive a free certificate program at the local College costing over $6000 because he saw the need and made it happen. He has changed so many lives and even N.H. sees it as he won ELO Coordinator of the year last year. Thank you

Tracy Walbridge Posted over a year ago

Acts of human generosity is at the core of Dean Grazino. His purpose is service to others, this is shown by the giving of his time, his energy and expecting nothing in return. He’s the first to ask, how can I help? Dean inspires all students (and educators) to use their imagination and engage in a world that extends beyond the classroom walls. In his role as Extended Learning Opportunties (ELO) Coordinator, Dean is passionate about student-driven meaningful learning opportunities that impact their lives and transforms their future. Dean’s leaderships supports all stakeholders to think differently about education and understands that students need different things to succeed; teaching and learning has to be open to many approaches, not any one. For all students; general education, special education and students living with mental health needs, Dean supports in raising the quality of family- school and community partnerships for students to access their education with hands on learning opportunities to be career and college ready. As a parent who has a child living with disabilities and has an individualized education plan. I understand that education is not just about academics. As a member of her IEP team, Dean engages the community creating developmentally appropriate and engaging learning experiences for my child, preparing her for what comes after high school, supporting in providing a social value role and changing the trajectory of her future. Dean exemplifies this award!

Peter Muccia Posted over a year ago

Dean is truly an outstanding member of the community. His tireless efforts to give the best this world has to offer to each and every students he reaches is a breath of fresh air. Paul Mitchell is honored to partner with a member of the education community that truly puts the Future Professional above all else! Dean is a genuine good person and I am happy to write this comment Thank You Dean for all you do!

George Farrow III Posted over a year ago

It has been an honor to work with Mr. Graziano throughout my high school career. I can't think of anyone more deserving of this award. Mr. Graziano is pioneering, forward thinking, efficient, and passionate about personalized educational practices which help his students gain an edge they would never be able to attain within the traditional classroom environment.

Katie Akeley Posted over a year ago

Love all that Mr. Graziano is doing for the students. The Safran Great Bay program is just amazing! Thank you Mr. Graziano

Debra Mattson Posted over a year ago

It was really great to work with Dean and Will Arvelo to get the Spaulding/Great Bay Community College project started! Dean's idea has come to fruition due to his dedication and hard work.

Barbara Graziano Posted over a year ago Dean’ innovative and creative style has proven a life-changer once again in Rochester, NH! Dean has single-handily given 13 students a $6000 tuition free college certificate. In addition, students will receive 1/2 an associates degree and all possible employers at the job fair will pay 100% for the rest of their degree. Dean tirelessly wrote all the application materials, rubric for application committee, marketing brochures and student contracts. What’s even more unbelievable he purchased till boxed they will need out of his own pocket, truly making this a no cost student program. He presented yesterday to the Governor’s Council and has the state of N.H. anxious to replicate. He has just changed drastically the lives of 13 selected students and their families! He truly deserves this award!!!

Caroline McCarley Posted over a year ago

I have worked closely with ?Dean since being elected Mayor of Rochester in 2016. he does great work for the students here and for the community. I have had an internship program out of my office for three of the past four years and the students have been enthusiastic for the opportunity and very dedicated to serving the community. Dean teaches students how to be professional and gives them opportunities to grow. His dedication is impressive and he is much deserving of this award.

Toni Gagne Posted over a year ago

Rochester and the students within the halls of Spaulding High School and the Creteau Tech Center are very luck to have Dean on their side. He is passionate about learning opportunities and leveraging the community to assist in the development of those students. I met Dean when I reached out to Spaulding in regards to holding a job fair. Dean hosts several job fairs during the year to help the students find jobs and possibly careers. He cares about the students and helping them to be successful and creates many opportunities for the students to reach their potential. He is a great community partner and very deserving of the Lifechanger of the Year award.

Ashley Fortin Posted over a year ago

Dean Graziano is a life changer. I have worked with Dean for the past year and it has been amazing getting to know him. Dean is 100% about the students and dedicates his life to making it so that the students can succeed. Dean goes above and beyond to make sure that all of the students have opportunities at their front door such as how to manage credit once you are in college to how to look for jobs to making sure students can get their hair done for prom. Dean always has a positive energy and is always thinking about what his students may need in the future. Dean truly deserves this award as he changes lives every day. He is the bridge that brings students and their community together. It’s been a pleasure working with Dean and can’t wait to be a part of more opportunities to collaborate with him.

Jenn Marsh Posted over a year ago

It is a privilege to acknowledge Dean for the Life Changer of the Year award. I work for the City of Rochester where Dean works as the Extended Learning Coordinator for the Creteau Technical Center and have seen him interact and go to bat for his students. Since the day Dean introduced himself to me I have been amazed at his energy and passion towards helping his students. Dean has reached out to hundreds of local businesses in and around our City to establish partnerships. These partnerships include businesses hiring interns, job shadowing, guest speakers in classrooms, mentor ships and much more. Dean went on to create a local Strategic Partnerships Committee with parents, educators, local businesses and community partners that work together to provide educational series and events that connect our students with our businesses and help prepare them for the workforce or higher education. Dean doesn't just connect his students with opportunities he helps them prepare. He has set up mock interviews, partnered with a local cosmetology school that provides free hair cuts for those who can't afford it, provided clothing for interviews, substance for those he knows needs it and most of all the support system that kids need to be confident and successful.