LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Kristine Douglas

Position: English Teacher
School: Waterfront Elementary School
School District: Buffalo Public Schools
City, State: Buffalo, NY

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Music that Describes Kristine

Kristine Douglas was nominated by a student, Sashell Heard.

"Mrs. Douglas has been a LifeChanger for thousands of students and our families. There are many instances where Mrs. Douglas has made it her life's mission daily to help every student and connect with our parents. I had a friend whose mother passed away in fifth grade, and when she got to McKinley High School, Mrs. Douglas took on the role of teacher, mentor, and mother. Mrs. Douglas helped us set up bank accounts and was the advisor for the drill team. She helped us raise money and donated so much of her own money for our uniforms and competitions. Mrs. Douglas talked to us while expecting the highest standards in her English class. She made us create an English binder that carried us through and prepared us for AP courses, college courses, college term papers, and state exams. Although she was an amazing teacher, she made learning fun and connected what we learned in class to our real lives so we could understand why we were in school. Mrs. Douglas took the time to learn about everyone," said Heard.

"She supported our businesses and created a classroom where we felt love. We're still connected to her and feel loved by her. Mrs. Douglas comes by our houses, helps us tutor our children, and goes beyond the call of duty to help in any way possible. Mrs. Douglas ensured students were accepted to college and had colleges come to her English classes. She made it so we could fill out our applications for free, talked to counselors and apprentice programs, and helped some students who had lost a parent due to death or jail fill out FAFSAs, job applications, and housing forms. Mrs. Douglas is a one-stop shop who had referrals for programs, helped us get jobs, and danced with us at our senior prom," said Heard.

"Mrs. Douglas continues to share her love for teaching, holding her annual writing camps. She also employs her old students to work at the camp as she uses English as a tool and basis for the camp. We write proposals for our business and contracts; Mrs. Douglas looks them over with us and reviews our business plans. She then connects us to businesses in the community and other professionals who can also help us. Mrs. Douglas helps with corrections and then approves us along with funding for our small businesses," said Heard. "She makes sure her students use the camp as a form of writing across life skills, writing for exams, newspapers, social media blogs, and how to write movie and film reviews. I have never had a teacher who uses their life to improve everyone else's lives. She uses her own money and time to come to our homes and make friends with our parents, including my mom. Mrs. D. is a remarkable person. She set up camp tents in her classroom and around the school to hold her annual writing camp. Although the camp appears to be fun - she has fresh pancakes, juice, and all-you-can-eat breakfast and lunch - the work that must be completed is so stringent and difficult that it becomes more school than camp. However, because it’s so much fun learning, writing camp is worth it." 

"Mrs. Douglas took her eighth-grade class go-carting and supported one of her students who owned a spa and needed business to the spa. Mrs. Douglas rented a limousine and took every girl in her class to receive free manicures courtesy of Mrs. Douglas. I admire how she teaches us how to use our words and voices and speak with conviction, intelligence, and confidence, demanding we learn how to read and write business plans, simple contracts, and even store receipts. Everything is a learning experience," said Heard.

"Mrs. Douglas has done so many acts of kindness; there are too many to write. I love how she always gave out candy on the way out of the classroom on Fridays. At first, I thought it was just candy, but to every student, she would say, 'Thank you for allowing me to teach you. It is truly an honor.' Once I understood she was honoring our abilities and willingness to learn, it made me want to be a better student and person. Mrs. Douglas is truly loved, admired, and appreciated by the thousands of students whose lives she has touched. She is amazing. Although Mrs. Douglas is certified to be a building principal, she wants to stay in the classroom as she feels obligated to have a closer approach to her students. Mrs. Douglas always shares how we use education to create a better society and find our purpose, gifts, and paths. Mrs. Douglas has been the class advisor and held leadership positions within the school and in the community," said Heard.

"Mrs. Douglas is not always games but full of fun, even when demanding the hardest part of digging deep academically, insisting we use Socratic Seminars, Peer Mediation, and intellectual discourse to facilitate classroom activities and lessons. She is animated in having us sing our pronouns and adverbs, clapping and allowing the process of learning to be obtainable through her lighthearted instructional manner. Mrs. Douglas’ strict teaching methods opted into an environment of high expectations and achievement. As a record of excellence in professionalism, she modeled success and taught what excellence looked like and how it should be exhibited in class and out. Mrs. Douglas isn't just an English teacher; she is a selfless teacher who related our street lives and real lives to education, learning, and how to rise to the next levels in all parts of life," said Heard. "Our English cohort, and those before and under us, continuously exhibited almost a total cohort passing group in her English class and on the state regents exams."

"Mrs. Douglas has always exhibited the highest moral and ethical standards as she would charge us twenty-five cents for a curse word the first time we used a word; after that, it was fifty cents for the second offense and then one dollar after the fourth offense. We always paid as she has a way to get students to comply. At the end of the week, Mrs. Douglas would hand over the envelope with the money collected to a student who hadn't cursed all week. What I loved most was how she taught us to speak and behave in public. Mrs. Douglas taught us that code-switching is a necessary life changer for everyone. She modeled this as she taught us how to practice talking to each other and write and transform our speech into well-crafted essays that did not reflect our childish speech or inappropriate words. Mrs. Douglas taught us how to respect ourselves, how to speak well to receive respect, and how to demand others treat us with respect," said Heard. "Mrs. Douglas is someone anyone can call at almost any time of the day, and she will answer the call for whatever anyone needs. Mrs. Douglas is a mother, a mentor, and a teacher. I call her about my children. She buys books and leapfrog reading skills pads, and is there to help me advocate for my children. When I was out of work, she helped me financially and emotionally and inspired me to keep going. I opened a small business, and she always supports me. She is one of my biggest cheerleaders, encouraging me to keep working diligently and not give up. Mrs. Douglas also helped another student I know to manage her beauty salon, connecting her to financial and business resources. These are just a few of the many people she helps. What we love about her is that after she gives you money and helps you, she says, 'Now don't tell anyone. This is between you, your parents, and me, that's it.' We all laugh! She helps everyone-- we love her and laugh with kindness behind her back as she is so sweet and amazing."