LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Sandy Kolakowski

Position: Special Education Paraprofessional
School: Rio Elementary School
School District: Rio Community Schools
City, State: Rio, WI

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Sandy Kolakowski was nominated by her colleague, Megan Hartley.

Mrs. Kolakowski, also known as "Mrs. K," has been the very heart of her school for more than two decades. She has helped countless students, not only with academic success, but with feeling special and loved. She has infinite patience and compassion. Each morning, she greets all the students as they step off the bus, addressing them by name and asking them about their lives (she remembers personal details about all of them!). Every child in her building knows who she is, and none of them have ever seen her without a smile. 

In addition to the daily impact she has on the students' lives, Mrs. K. runs several other programs for her school. She is in charge of the yearly Veteran's Day Assembly. She decorates the entire school, sets up coffee and snacks for all the district veterans, and invites the local Legion to come and present to the students. Mrs. K also organizes a coat/winter gear drive each year to make sure all students have enough warm clothes to wear. 

Mrs. K is the one who makes sure to wish every student a happy birthday. She has a singing toy she brings to the lunch room to celebrate with each student on their special day. She's the one who notices the quiet kids and goes out of her way to chat with them and make them feel noticed. Mrs. K is the one who kids know to go to if they ever need a hug. She's the one who gives her colleagues a smile or a sigh when they meet her in the hallway to let them know she knows just how they're feeling. 

"When I started here, Mrs. K made me feel at home. She sought me out to offer a smile and an encouraging word almost every day for my first year," said Hartley. "She embodies the very spirit of our school - endless love and support. We are so very, very lucky to have her!"

Comments (2)

Laurie zach Posted over a year ago

Sandy is an exceptional person in and out of school.. the Rio school system is lucky to have such a devoted employee. I have personally seen children and teenagers come up to her in a store or school and great her. Even if they have already graduated

Hilary Husom Posted over a year ago

Mrs. K is the best person I know. Not only does she bring all of these qualities to school she greets everyone in her community with such warmth and love. You can not help but smile when you are around her. Thank you Mrs. K for lifting up everyone you come in contact with.