LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Afton Schleiff

Position: Eighth Grade English Teacher
School: Southwest Junior High School
School District: Springdale Public Schools
City, State: Springdale, AR

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Afton Schleiff was nominated by her colleague, Ruth Trainor.

Seventy percent of the students at Southwest Junior High School (SWJH) receive free and reduced Lunch. Many of the students have unstable, chaotic and difficult home environments. Some have suffered from a traumatic experience related to the adversity in their lives. School should be a safe place for students to come to that is stable, and not chaotic.

Ms. Schleiff is in her second year of implementing Conscious Discipline in her classroom. As a result, her students feel safe, accepted and loved. Below are various statements from her students last year who took her end-of-year class survey:

  • Mrs. Schleiff is a very happy, energetic and kind person. She helps me stay calm, and I enjoy being in her class.

  • You always know how to calm yourself and calm others. I enjoy having you as a teacher! I learn a lot from you, and I understand it.

  • You don’t scream at us and when everybody is talking, you stay calm.

  • I really like how she teaches, like the way she thinks about us. Like not yelling and going through it slowly and how she does things.

  • I like how Mrs. Schleiff teaches and how she just makes her students feel safe in her classroom.

  • I always feel safe and secure in her presence.

  • Because you’re always giving us time to do our work and always supporting us through whatever we are dealing with.

  • She is always making sure everyone in the class has a chance to speak, interact, and to be able to have a good experience in class.

  • She always makes me feel welcome and at home in her class.

  • Mrs. Schleiff connects with her students, and builds a bond with them.

  • She is fun and keeps the class engaged while still meeting everyone's needs.

  • I love the way you are all inclusive and never make anyone feel unwelcome.

  • She is very understanding of our lives outside of school, and she doesn't get super upset if we get a wrong answer, or don't know the answer. I feel very comfortable asking her for help on almost anything.

  • Mrs. Schleiff is extremely patient to students. She pushes us to be the best that we can be and pushes us even more. She doesn't stop trying. She is always on her feet, telling us that we can do it. Her attitude is amazing. I love how she makes us try. I love how she is above and beyond nice.

  • I can relate to many things with her. She is really easy to talk to and she is very nice. She is great at explaining things and helps you understand what you don't get. She is an amazing mom too. Even though I don't live with her, I can tell that she really cares about her kids because she reflects that caring and positive attitude in class.

  • She is an amazing person, teacher, human being, etc. I relate so much to her, and I love how she teaches with love and compassion.

  • I love the environment of her classroom and her welcoming heart.

  • She makes my day more positive. I have learned a lot about life from her and she is an example to follow. I like that she tells us about the little things she does to improve herself (Conscious Discipline, writing 3 things she is thankful for every morning, brain exercises before a test).

  • She actually cares about us and our lives: personal and academic.

  • She also does not bash people for not doing stuff, but she always finds a calmer way to fix things, and I really like that about her.

These statements from her students demonstrate the beneficial, constructive and positive difference she has made in their lives. She is committed to providing a nurturing atmosphere, not only in her classroom, but also in the school. She has become a school leader in training school staff who want to learn about Conscious Discipline by providing professional development opportunities. Last year, she led a monthly book study covering the Conscious Discipline book, Building Resilient Classrooms. This year, she is leading another monthly training discussing Conscious Discipline videos purchased through the Loving Choices website.

Ms. Schleiff has been a teacher for more than 10 years. She receives excellent ratings and reviews from the administration team. Another leadership position that she holds is the department chair of the English department. She is charge of the department’s daily team time, during which they plan curriculum and discuss data and academic interventions for students.

In her personal and private life, she lives by a high moral and ethical standard. She was raised by parents who loved and supported her. She is married to a local policeman, with whom she has 2 young sons.

"Afton changes lives. She IS a LifeChanger. This award was tailored made for her," said Trainor.

Comments (47)

Randy Fitzgerald Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is a Positive Influence to our community and students. She is committed in her efforts and goes Above and Beyond for All. So thankful and honored that she has been a positive influence on my son and hoped to have my daughter in her class next year. She is a perfect fit for this award.

Aden Ingraham Narx Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is such a great teacher and is so good at calming everyone down. I was not surprised to hear she was awarded the LIfe Changer Award because she is such an amazing person that always thinks of everyone before herself.

Karen Moon Posted over a year ago

Afton is one of the best educators I have ever worked with. She is always smiling, encouraging, and genuinely cares about those around her. She is so supportive of students, faculty, and staff and is always ready to celebrate individual and group achievements. Everyday I see her inspire the people around her to be a positive influence on others. She has indeed been a LifeChanger to me and I am honored to call her my friend.

Ryleigh Bunch Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff lets you be yourself and helps you become a better person. She doesn't just teach you about writing skills, but she teaches you things about life. She is there for her students academically and personally. Mrs. Schleiff helps you learn in a safe environment and you're safe to be yourself in her classroom and her presence.

Clarissa Rodriguez Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is always positive, and is always helpful to everyone in the classroom. As well as helping me get better in English because one of main struggles is my writing skills. Even though it might have taken me a while, she was always there when I needed help. Mrs. Schleiff impacts a lot of her students. No matter what the issue is she always makes her classroom, so safe. She always wants to make our classroom safe, and even if we have a celebration to celebrate. We can always feel successful in our lives, and we have classmates support us. Mrs. Schleiff is an amazing teacher, and I truly hope that everyone will experience Mrs. Schleiff as a teacher.

Lana Hampton Posted over a year ago

Ms. Schleiff is indeed a Life Changer. She not only impacts her students with her ability to get across her content, but she also impacts them with the principles of conscious discipline. She has internalized these principles herself and is continually working to help students with their social emotional learning. Some people mistakenly believe that Becky Bailey's Conscious Discipline is for preschool and elementary children. However, Ms. Schleiff has pioneered implementation in the junior high classroom. She has implemented student jobs, classroom rituals, and a safe place. Students in her classes have responded positively to these changes; in fact, many of them credit their social emotional decisions to what they're learning in her class. One of them recently told me "I wanted to get angry and tell my friend off, but instead I just breathed to calm down. Then when I was calm, I had a talk with my friend and we worked the problem out." This positive response is multiplied many times in our school because of Ms. Schleiff's dedication to helping students grow and develop good mental habits.

Linda Stamper Posted over a year ago

Afton Schleiff has been an inspiration to our community of faculty, staff, students, and parents. She has led our monthly Conscious Discipline book study for the last year and a half, teaching us how to implement Couscious Discipline practices and encouraging us to continue adding new CD routines into our classroom. Afton leads by example, using these principles in her own classroom.

Ian R. Balmer Posted over a year ago

Afton is the department head and is an exemplary leader, who leads by example. She utilizes her Conscious Discipline in dealing with all her peers and her students. She always speaks to everyone with respect and tries to resolve conflict by bringing opposite sides together. She is also extremely loyal to both her colleagues and students and will go to bat for the underdog. She has an awesome rapport with her students and knows how to build up the marginalized at Southwest. She is an awesome colleague and leader

Allison Barron Posted over a year ago

From just being Mrs. Schleiff has been the most amazing teacher in my whole school career. Her positive way of thinking provides a feeling of safety and love that I haven’t felt, to this extent, in any other class. I love her so much. She is school mom and she definitely deserves this award.

Allison Barron Posted over a year ago

From just being Mrs. Schleiff has been the most amazing teacher in my whole school career. Her positive way of thinking teaching provides a feeling of safety and love that I haven’t felt to this extent

Becky Baugh Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is an amazing teacher! Three of my children have been blessed to have been taught by her. She is compassionate and makes learning interesting!

Jayden Duthcik Posted over a year ago

This teacher is the most amazing teacher I have. She has to deal with the same stuff I am dealing with now. She likes to help me out when I need it.

Ricky Villa Posted over a year ago

She's a great teacher.

Finley McClure Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is hands down the best teacher I have ever had. When you need to be calm, all you have to do is talk to her. She uses Conscious Discipline as a resource to teach her students to her best ability. Without her, I would probably be so stressed and I would not be able to get any work done. Not only does she care about our education, but she cares about our personal well being as well. She truly wants us to succeed and help us to do what makes us happy, She is one of the most caring people I have ever met.

Lizzie Sol Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is one of the most inspirational, thoughtful, and caring people I know. She has a real passion to not only teach students, but make a lasting impact on their lives. She makes everyone feel loved and truly cared about. Mrs. Schleiff is definitely a life changer!

Diana Martinez Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Shlieff is one of the best teachers I've met. She has taught me many things. I've learned about conscious despline and how to do things and not over react.She is so respectful and caring. If you ever need help wether its about school or about a problem in general, she is the right person to talk to. She welcomes everybody and doesn't not leave anyone out. XOXO

Sandra Scott Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is one of only 2 teachers my son has ever greatly communicated well with. Her charismatic ability to personally connect with students brings both comfort and joy to a parent. We as parents struggle with connections to our teens. Schleiff’s connections aren’t as friends or the cool teacher like many teachers I remember growing up. She strict to show she’s their teacher and an adult ear to listen, but not to be confused as a friend. I admire that ability so much. That’s a hard line to walk even as a parent. She will bring random gifts to kids out of the blue just to let them know an adult in the school sees you and knows you and believes in you.

Debbie Matteri Posted over a year ago

Afton indeed is a LifeChanger! She is the type of teacher who inspires and encourages both students and colleagues. I am always amazed at her energy levels and her passion to make a difference in the lives of those around her. The leadership she has exhibited with Conscious Discipline in our school has been impactful and truly comes naturally from the overflow of her personal commitment to change lives in the classroom and in her role as a parent to two young sons.

Melissa Wallace Posted over a year ago

We were in a desperate situation when we enrolled our daughter at Southwest Junior High School. I remember reaching out to the school counselor and teachers about our daughter's behaviors and needs and Mrs. Afton Schleiff responded immediately. Throughout the year, not only did Mrs. Schleiff remain in contact with me whenever she had a concern, but she also reported the progress she saw in our girl. She didn't stop there. Mrs. Schleiff made every effort to establish trust with our daughter and let her know that she was fully supported both emotionally and academically. I watched our daughter transform from a struggling student to a thriving, confident young lady in her new environment. I will always be thankful for Mrs. Schleiff's compassion, understanding, and willingness to help our daughter during our time at SWJH. I absolutely hate that we had to move out of the state last summer, especially because I knew what a treasure we'd found in SWJH and Afton. To this day, our daughter continues to talk about Mrs. Schleiff and how much she cared. Afton is truly changing the lives of students, which in turn, impacts ours! Because of her, our desperate situation with our daughter was filled with hope. Afton absolutely deserves every kind of support that will help her further her efforts to better the lives and learning experiences for her students at SWJH!

Diana Martinez Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Shlieff is one of the best teachers I've met. She has taught me many things. I've learned about conscious despline and how to do things and not over react.She is so respectful and caring. If you ever need help wether its about school or about a problem in general, she is the right person to talk to. She welcomes everybody and doesn't not leave anyone out. XOXO

Fernando Roman Posted over a year ago

Shes a wonderful person and brings light to my world. She helps me thru though times.

Lori Davis Posted over a year ago

I have had the privilege of working with Afton for the past five years. She is a wonderful teacher, but more importantly, she is a wonderful person. It is always evident she genuinely cares for all of her students. She is an excellent English teacher, but she also teaches them to be caring and compassionate.

Valeria Rodriguez Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schlieff is a phenomenal teacher. She is always ready to teach no matter how bad her day is going, If shes ever having a bad day she takes a breath before she teaches class. Thank you for everything you do Mrs. Shlieff

magaly mira Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff is a phenomenal teacher , shes always ready to teach no matter how bad shes feeling . She always knows when somethings wrong with someone and she puts everyone in a better mood . Thank you for everything you do Mrs. Schleiff <33

Asher Posted over a year ago

Mrs Schleif is and always will be one of the best teachers I have ever had and ever will have, shes kind, helpful, always alert, and she tries her best to teach us the way we want to be taught she is always my favourite class of the day

Heather Barron Posted over a year ago

Ms. Schlieff is truly one of the most inspirational teachers my twins have ever had! Both of my children loved to be in her class and excelled in understanding the English language because of her skills as an outstanding teacher, a brilliant facilitator, a caring mentor, and a positive role model. She helped them to discover their own unique voice and develop critical thinking, discussion, and writing skills to present a sound and thoughtful argument. They both also read more--BY CHOICE--when they were in her class. She inspired them to learn more about issues/subjects so they could develop their own, informed opinion about it. Both of my children would give anything to be in her class again and frequently stop her classroom to see or get a hug from her. As a parent, Ms. Schlieff has been one of the best teachers in keeping parents informed about what was going on in her class. I looked forward to getting the monthly newsletter that kept me updated about what my children would be studying and important dates that were coming up. I wish my children (and they do, too!) could have her every year! She is truly a LifeChanger!!!!

Cassie Stout Posted over a year ago

My daughter Raegan has been so blessed to have Mrs Schleiff as her teacher. If Raegan needs extra help she offers up her personal time to get her back on track and send me updated email so that I stay in the loop. We love the she practices conscience disciple in her class and tells many stories of her family. I feel this make her seem more relatable to the students and no like a "stuffy teacher". We love the teachers at SWJH, but Mrs Schleiff goes above and beyond. She is such an asset to the district!

Kelly Koons Posted over a year ago

My daughter has had the privilege of having Mrs. Schlieff as her teacher at Southwest for the last two years. She talks about her almost daily because of her love for her students both in and out of the classroom. My daughter's hope, of course is that Mrs. Schleiff will transfer to Har-Ber next year so that she can have her as her teacher for 3 more years!

Gina Core Posted over a year ago

My son Jagger has had the privilege of being in Ms. Schleiff’s Pre-AP class. He benefits from her teaching style and the Conscious Discipline exercises. It is a very positive experience!

jody koons Posted over a year ago

Afton is absolutely the best. She goes above and beyond in her classroom to make students not only learn but feel safe. She is organized and shows great leadership. She makes me a better person. I feel honored to work with her and call her my friend.

Raven Harvey Posted over a year ago

Both if my daughters have/had Mrs Schleiff and have absolutely loved her! I'm thankful for the nurturing and support she provides for each of her students. Congratulations!

Harmony West Posted over a year ago

Afton Schleiff is an amazing soul. She is always so encouraging and helpful. She goes above and beyond as an educator. She displays great leadership. She is a life changer. I feel privileged to have meet her and work with her.

Vickie Bashaw Posted over a year ago

Afton is such a lover of all things kind and good. She loves her students and brings her best self each day. I'm thankful to call her a friend.

Rebecca Sol Posted over a year ago

Both of my children have or have had Ms. Schleiff. Both would say she is more than just a teacher to them she is a mentor and someone they look up to. I appreciate how she cares for her students both in and out of the classroom. She forms bonds with them and keeps up with them even after they leave Southwest. She is a Lifechanger on a daily basis.

Sarah Krauft Posted over a year ago

Afton is simply one of the most positive, caring women I have ever met. I have known her for many years and have watched as her career has blossomed. She genuinely loves teaching children, and I would have LOVED for my son to have been in her classroom. She and I have had several discussions about Consious Discipline, and I love to hear her passion on the topic.

Lisa Lentz Posted over a year ago

Afton has led the way for our entire school to make lasting and quality connections with our students. She comes early and stays late to lead a book study teaching and modeling positive methods of mentoring students. It is no exaggeration to say she has made an indelible impression on our entire school. We are richer for it!

Whitney Perkins Posted over a year ago

Afton is an incredible friend and mentor! I met her when I was a long-term substitute at SWJH. She helped with every aspect of my new position - from lesson planning to behavior management skills. She always made me feel welcome and supported and was glad to answer any question I had. Eventually, I received a full-time position at SWJH and she continued to mentor me and support me in all aspects of my life. Not only is she a wonderful mentor, she is also a role model to me. She handles her job with such grace and positivity. Her students love her and often come back to thank her for her guidance in school and life. A year ago, I had a child. I was very overwhelmed with my new responsibilities in addition to my responsibilities as a teacher. Being a mother and a teacher herself, she gave me wonderful advice and encouragement and made me feel capable of handling my new life. She has definitely changed my life for the better: as an educator, a mother, and friend. I value her friendship so much and there is NO ONE more worthy of this recognition. Thank you Afton for all you have done for me and continue to do for others. You are an amazing person and I am lucky to have you in my life. :)

Dana McCartney Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Afton for several years and served with her as a department lead teacher. I am continually impressed with her professionalism in her work as well as her passion for her subject area and her students. She is always looking for ways to better herself, her teaching, & her students. She is quite deserving of this award. #LCOY

Rebecca Cloud Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Schleiff has taught 3 of my children (we hope she will have the fourth one in a couple years). Every one of them will tell you what a special lady she is. I still remember how she showed up to cheer on our oldest son (when he was her student) at one of his first cross country meets. I have no doubt he still remembers too that she would take the time to do that. Even though our third child is no longer in her class, Mrs. Schleiff makes an effort to stay connected with her (much needed) by having lunch with her and just checking in with her. We appreciate not only how Mrs. Schleiff teaches our children English/literature, but also inspires them to be better people. She IS a life changer.

Audra "Cissy" Lindley Posted over a year ago

Congratulations, Afton!!! You are such a remarkable person and educator and such an asset to Southwest Junior High. You are a strong leader and a constant learner who is passionate about helping everyone around you grow and learn right along with you. No one is more deserving of the title Life Changer of the Year, and I am so thankful to get to serve beside you each day.

Lindsay Harriman Posted over a year ago

I work with Alton. She is a wonderful mentor to our students.

Kelly Campbell Posted over a year ago

Ms Schlieff, Strives to be th best at everything she does. She has gone the extra mile and has gotten extra certifications, extra education so she could implement different teaching styles so she can teach to the many different students. She takes the time to know her students individually,so she can help them understand the material she is teaching. She is an avid reader and helps others to fall in love with reading too. She cares so much for her students and has impacted their lives to help them believe that no matter your background if you believe in yourself you can become anything you want and can achieve your goals and become whatever you want. They have her in their corners and some of her students have entrusted her with secrets that might of held them back in life, but she is so nonjudgmental that her students have been able to soar and achieve their dreams and goals and go farther then they ever imagined.

Karen Hickman Posted over a year ago

As a Conscious Discipline Master Instructor, Afton has been an absolute delight to support and watch grow in her understanding and implementation of Conscious Discipline. She frequently reaches out to share stories of her family and classroom. Often her stories are about exciting moments of success and other times a challenge that she is seeking guidance with. Many times she finds a solution through her own creative brainstorming process and I offer affirmation. Not only is Afton changing her own life and those of her students, but also the lives of other educators, whom she so enthusiastically inspires. She is very deserving of this honor.

Ron Spalter Posted over a year ago

Afton is a phenomenal teacher and colleague. She changes lives because she takes time to develop authentic relationships with her students. She listens as actively as she speaks, so she hears what others may not.

Dr Jacob Hayward Posted over a year ago

Ms Schleiff is one of the most impactful educator I have had the pleasure of working with and knowing. Afton works diligently to ensure all students learn and creates positive and individualized pathways for the students. Further she is constantly working to improve herself professionally, such as pursuing higher education degrees and seeking feedback from her colleagues. This recognition would be well deserved and would confirm what many of us know about her.

Rachel McAdams Jessen Posted over a year ago

I feel so grateful that 2 of my children have been able to have Mrs. Schleiff for their English teacher. She has taught them how to consciously put aside their concerns so they can concentrate on learning. One of their best teachers ever!

Karen Johnson Posted over a year ago

Afton is a phenomenal teacher who makes a difference in the lives of her students, colleagues and community. I’m better because of her.