Laurie Thomas was nominated by her principal Julie Johansen.
"It is my pleasure to recommend Lauri Thomas for the LifeChanger Award. Lauri has been in the field of education for 45 years and will be officially retiring (and this time leaving!) after this school year. She has been teaching at Creswell Middle School for 25 of those years and is incredibly deserving of this award. For most of her time at CMS, Lauri taught Physical Education, Health, First Aid/CPR, and an Essential Skills Elective. For the past two years, however, Lauri has pivoted to serve as our school counselor while teaching a period of physical education, a social skills class, and an agriculture elective. In addition, Lauri has provided countless opportunities for students in the community of Creswell through additional experiences, field trips, and extracurricular activities," said Johansen.
"Lauri is an excellent citizen and role model for her students. She demonstrates this in the way she helps others. Lauri has been a volunteer Advisor/Coach for the Creswell High School Equestrian Team (Ohset). She demonstrates to her students what it means to be a good team member, taking pride in one's work, and that hard work pays off. In addition, Lauri has specifically taught students in a social skills class for the past two years. Through her guidance, students learn and practice skills they will need to get along with others who are different from themselves, be tolerant of others, and contribute to their school, home, and community," said Johansen.
"Lauri is very innovative and brings new opportunities to our campus for students. One example of this has been the Career Fair she volunteers to direct at CMS. Ms. Thomas brings in community members to speak with students about career options in our local community in hopes of encouraging them to work hard in school and gain the skills they need to be employable. Another example of this was when she taught a culinary elective. As part of this elective, Ms. Thomas taught students how to make items for a Thanksgiving Dinner and had "dinner" within her classroom so that students could learn table manners and how to eat with others. Another example is her agriculture elective. As the Agriculture and Gardening Elective Teacher, Mrs. Thomas has taught students life skills and created field trips for students that are new and interesting," said Johansen.
"Lauri has always been innovative in bringing resources to our school and her students. One example of this is her writing of the Outdoor School Grant. For the last two years, Lauri has secured the grant to cover almost 200 students attending Outdoor School. This experience has provided students, many of whom had never left Creswell, the chance to see the great outdoors and learn about nature, life skills, and others. Another example was when Lauri secured a grant for first aid supplies. Lastly, Lauri was integral in helping me bring a quiet break space (called the Tiger Zen Den) onto our campus for students. As part of this, she helped create a website full of resources for students to use while taking a break to de-escalate, refocus, and be able to go back to class and participate effectively," said Johansen.
"Lauri is incredibly passionate about helping kids reach their fullest potential. Although she loved being in the classroom as a full-time teacher, her passion for helping struggling students and their families led her to return to school and get her counseling certificate. Lauri has always taken a personal interest in students' lives and successes. One example of this has been with a middle schooler who consistently struggled with behavior, wasn't coming to school, and was making poor progress. They were often kicked out of class, had peer issues, and were disrespectful to staff. Lauri has taken them under her wing for the past two years. When Lauri found out that this student had a passion for horses and riding, she used her own time to create an incentive plan with a local business that has horses and provides lessons. The plan began with the student earning weekly riding lessons as long as they came to school and made good choices. As the student became more successful, Lauri added to the incentive plan so that they continued to show growth and make academic progress. She also secured funds to pay for the student's initial riding, and when those funds ran out, she continued to pay so that the student could ride. This is just one example of how her passion for kids and their success has manifested," said Johansen.
"Overall, Lauri Thomas is an incredible teacher, school counselor, and person. She goes above and beyond for kids and our Creswell community and deserves the LifeChanger Award," said Johansen.