Lena Sarnowski was nominated by her colleague, Ashley Lenard.
Mrs. Sarnowski devotes her time each and every day to making a positive impact on the students she works with. She comes into school each day with a smile on her face and positive attitude. If a teacher has a concern regarding a student, she makes it a point to put time aside and consult strategies with the teacher or work with the student directly. On top of working full time, Mrs. Sarnowski also works part-time at a clinic throughout the week, servicing children with more severe speech and language needs.
Mrs. Sarnowski pushes into classrooms, pulls small groups, and works individually with students from the moment she steps into the school each day to the moment the bell rings for dismissal. Throughout the week, you can see her coming into school early for IEPs and other meetings. She is part of a committee focused on Restorative Practices, which highly influences the culture and approaches teachers and staff take with students and their classroom communities. Mrs. Sarnowski is always willing to assist at a moment's notice if students are displaying problem behaviors. She never bats an eye if there is a crisis and is always willing to help in any way that she can.
Mrs. Sarnowski is also a leader throughout the school by co-facilitating the Peer to Peer program. This program includes 150 students from grades 1-6 and meets once per week. Students are paired up with an individual who has autism, and together, they complete activities and lessons. This program focuses on promoting inclusion and building social skills, empathy, and a positive culture that includes those with special needs. Mrs. Sarnowski has written grants alongside the school social worker to receive district funds for this program. She creates and co-facilitates multiple fundraisers throughout the year, and she puts her time and energy into her students, even when she is not in the building.
Mrs. Sarnowski is always brainstorming ways she can better herself and her practice. She constantly focuses on what she can do to support the students she works with even more, whether it's by purchasing curriculum or adding service times. She is also a member of the district's Assistive Technology team, where she supports students and any of their extra classroom needs such as bumpy seats, headphones, and any other accommodations.
"Lena's humble personality, experience, and professionalism makes her a major asset to the Mark Twain Elementary team," said Lenard. "We are so thankful for her commitment to our students each and every day!"