LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Toni Martino

Position: Special Education Teacher
School: West Wortham Elementary/Middle School
School District: Harrison County School District
City, State: Saucier, MS

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Music that Describes Toni


Toni Martino was nominated by her colleague, Karen Johnston.

"Mrs. Martino is one of the best teachers I have had the honor of working with," said Johnston. "Her love and respect for her students and any other special needs child is always first and foremost in her life. She goes above and beyond to make sure children with special needs are treated fairly and with respect. She expects the best from them, and that's what she gets."

One time, Mrs. Martino had a student who didn't want to come to school, so the child climbed up a tree.  When she was told why her student wasn't at school, she left school, went and climbed up the same tree, and talked the student down. She expects her students to follow the rules and to perform as best as they can. In return, her students receive her love and respect, which means the world to them.

"Any time I have ever needed any help with paperwork or anything, all I have to do is ask for her assistance and she is there for me," said Johnston. "I feel like it's safe to say that anyone who has worked with or knows Mrs. Toni, knows that her main goal in life is to bring out the 'special' in all the students she encounters."



Comments (69)


Brandy Ferguson Posted over a year ago

Changing lives... the lives of children, students, teachers, parents, athletes, & all people, is definitely what Toni does & she is amazing at it. I watch her in awe, Toni's devotion to her students is such an inspiration. Toni not only sees the best in her students, she sees the best in all people and wants what's best for everyone. Toni will tell you what you need to hear, it may be kind uplifting words to one of her own students if they're upset (for a legitimate reason), it may be a genuine compliment to a child she doesn't even teach, it may be telling a soccer player to try harder when they're not giving their 100%, or it may be telling a student or fellow teacher in the cafeteria, that they need to get their act together. Toni is quick to tell it like it is if it helps make you a better person. Toni teaches her students educational objectives, meets their instructional needs, and helps them reach academic & personal goals. Toni teaches more, she teaches essential, valuable life skills! Toni teaches all the people around her important things in life. She teaches you to make good decisions, do the right thing, be a friend, help others, clean up your mess, it's okay to cry, respect peers & adults, courtesy flush, use manners, learn from your mistakes, & most of all to be nice because "in the world, it doesn't matter to others if you can read, but it matters to others if you're nice."

K Posted over a year ago

Toni genuinely loves her job and her students. Her students' welfare doesn't just exist in her class but also in their everyday lives. She goes above and beyond to help her students obtain whatever it takes to succeed. Her students will continue to benefit from her dedication with or without the title, BUT Toni so deserves this award!!

Sandy Holbrook Posted over a year ago

Toni loves her students! She not only teaches in the classroom, she also spends time with her students in the community. She and her family truly care for her students and it shows everyday in their words and their actions! #teamtonilifechangeroftheyear

Roxanne Towles Posted over a year ago

Toni is such a loving teacher to her students with special needs. She sees each one of them as an individual and not their disability. She goes above and beyond to make their learning experience a personal one, always paying close attention to how they learn as individuals and meeting them there. What a blessing Toni Martino is to the field of eduction and to all who know her!

Casey Hutto Posted over a year ago

Toni is an amazing and caring teacher. She teaches with passion and treats her students as her own with all the love and respect in the world. She is there for her students 24/7 and it is apparent throughout the community. There isn’t anyone more deserving of this award than her.

Christina mcraney Posted over a year ago

Mrs Martino is so much more than just a teacher, she goes way above ,she had my son Rick and she not only took him on when other teachers couldn't handle him,but she has also been a huge part of his life,she is a hero in my book

Allyson Posted over a year ago

Toni is phenomenal with what she does in and out of the classroom to impact those that she is lucky to teach every day. The love and respect given to each and every student in Toni's class is the driving factor of the many achievements they obtain. Anybody that hears Toni speak of her students will know just how much each one of them mean to her. She absolutely adores her students.

Felicia Ladner Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Martino goes above and beyond for her students. She inspires me to be a better teacher. She is someone I would want to teach my own child. To me, that speaks volumes about type of educator that she is.

Becky Ladner Posted over a year ago

Mrs.Martino’s love for her students shines through on a daily basis. Her patience and dedication are evident while meeting the individual needs of each child.

Angie Hood Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! Toni is an amazing person and her students look up to her as their role model. Great job!!

Tara Sanders Posted over a year ago

Toni, you are inspiration to me and I inspire to touch as many lives as you do each and everyday. We have worked together in many different fashions, but being able to work side by side with you daily is such a blessing. Our students are well loved and encouraged on a daily basis and your love of teaching is shown in the love and support you give to all of our students. You are well-deserving of this award. You always seem to manage to go above and beyond for our students every day. You support them in every way possible whether it is to help one of the students by walking with him for an entire day to earn his "Eagle Scout" badge for his Scout Troop or helping a young man come out of his shell enough to spend time away from his parents and safety zone or even a fun filled trip to Outback. Your love for them is always showing. I enjoy being able to support you each day in these tasks. There is no one I can think that better deserves this award. Congratulations on being recognized as we all know you are already a Life Changer/Saver!

Melinda Simon Posted over a year ago

Toni goes above and beyond for her students!

Karmen Fitzgerald Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino makes a difference in children's lives every day.

Bryan Lowery Posted over a year ago

Toni is a wonderful person and a great teacher.

Kelly Patton Posted over a year ago

Toni is an absolute wonderful person, and an even better teacher!

Elizabeth Saucier Posted over a year ago

The kids that Toni works with absolutely adore her and she adores them in return. It's obvious she is making a positive impact on her student's lives because they can't wait to see her.

Coach Portrey Posted over a year ago

Ms. Martino is well-deserving of this prestigious award. She goes above and beyond for her students every day. She supports them in every way possible (she even helped one of her students achieve a "Life Goal" by walking with him for an entire day to earn his "Eagle Scout" badge for his Scout Troop. Having only known her for the past 2 years, I quickly realized how passionate she is about her job and her students. I support her and this nomination to win this award; we all at West Wortham know that she deserves it!

Jennifer Peterson Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Ms. Toni. You deserve this recognition and thanks for all that you do. You are inspiration to me and I inspire to touch as many lives as you do one day. Your students are well loved and encouraged on a daily basis. The love of your teaching is shown in the support you give to your students. Congratulations on being recognized for this award!

Chris Lewis Posted over a year ago

Toni, Congratulations on this nomination, you totally deserve this award! Your compassion and love for your students knows no bounds. Above and beyond does not even begin to describe what you do on a daily basis for your students. My admiration for you is immense as I have witnessed your interaction with your students for many years now and the growth these students show is incredible. I sincerely hope you win girl! Love you

Jamie Necaise Posted over a year ago

Toni Matino not only teaches in her classroom she's also active in her students life outside of school. She is a true blessing to her students.

Ashley Ladner Posted over a year ago

Toni is so deserving of this recognition! She touches the lives of her students, whom she loves dearly, each day. She definitely leaves a lasting impression! Way to go, Toni!!

Bethany Whipps Posted over a year ago

Some people were born to do their jobs. Toni Martino is one of those people. Life Changer is a very appropriate description. She has done amazing work with students in the classroom but her job never ends there. She has taken kids on summer outings, helped them earn badges for scouting, made sure they had money for expenses needed. I'm jealous of some of the fun adventures she has taken with her students! They do have/will have some amazing memories. She is their advocate, friend, teacher, counselor, mentor, and often steps in when needed for other roles. Students lives are better from knowing and being taught by Toni and we, her colleagues, are better for having worked with her.

Brandi Shanahan Posted over a year ago

Tonight is always involving the students in different activities. She supports her students in things they are interested in doing.

Cindy Davidson Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino, where do I begin ? This is the most amazing individual . Her heart and soul is dedicated to teaching special needs and Anyone she encounters. I have witnessed lives changed due to her influence . Thank you to the committee for the opportunity to say how wonderful this woman is :)

Michelle Posted over a year ago

Way to go!

Angie Bentz Posted over a year ago

God has blessed you with a special talent of helping children. They are blessed to have you as their teacher. Sincerely, Angie Bentz 2nd Grade Teacher West Wortham Elementary

Tanya Reichard Voorhees Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is that special kind of educator. She is one that not only provides instruction and meets all requirements and quidelines, but sees the humanity in all of her students and strives, above all, to enrich them as people. She selflessly devotes her own time, energy, and resources to advocate for her students and their unique needs. She is remarkable and an asset, not only to our school, district, and state, but the world in general. She makes it a better place every day.

Shellie Switzer Posted over a year ago

Ms. Martino goes above and beyond both inside and outside of the classroom. She loves her students and they know it. She conducts fundraisers each year to ensure that her students have the supplies and opportunities they need to be successful. She takes them on field trips to help teach them life skills and give them experiences that some of them might not otherwise have. When one of her students was working toward his Eagle Scout badge, Ms. Martino helped him get ready for his 20 mile walk and walked the entire distance with him. She is a true asset to our school and very deserving of this award.

Jennifer Walker Posted over a year ago

Toni is a wonderful teacher. She finds new ways to excite her students about learning and interacting with the student body as well as the faculty. You can tell she does a great job because her students are always so happy!

Sandra Lott Posted over a year ago

Ms. Martino is a brilliant inspiration to her students in whom she instills confidence and a "can-do" attitude. With her guidance, there is no reason that they can't achieve their goals. She is also a wonderful inspiration to her co-workers. Being a teacher is not easy, but being a special education teacher brings a different level of personal, physical, and emotional commitment to the table. Ms. Martino brings these each and every day without cease and with a giant smile on her face and with gladness in her heart. Toni Martino IS indeed a LIFE CHANGER!

Melissa Upchurch Posted over a year ago

Toni is a compassionate caring person that truly loves her students. I have never met a more caring person who will go to the ends of the earth if it would make a difference in the life of one of her students. I have personally watched Toni be a cheerleader to a student that needed to complete a very tough task. She not only walked (literally) beside this student; she cheered him on, encouraged him and got the community and school to rally behind him as well. She is a life changer and deserves this award.

Kristy Necaise Posted over a year ago

Toni's love for her students is evident! I've only ever seen her compassionate and caring for them. What a blessing she is to have in education.

Heather VanDeVelde Posted over a year ago

So so deserved! Mrs Toni is making this world so much brighter through the smiles on her student's faces. So thankful for all that she does!

Donna Posted over a year ago

I have known Toni since her high school days. She is one of the most compassionate, caring & loving person I have come in contact with. She so deserves this recognition. No matter when I run into her, I get the biggest hug. And there us quite an age difference, she went to school with my children. Just love her!

Nita Seymour Posted over a year ago

Miss Tony is a very good teacher. She is there for the children to learn. And she take a lot for time with the children. And she truly loves her Children .She is a very great Parson

Andra Dye Posted over a year ago

If I could take the moon out of the sky and gift it to Toni, I would. Think about that. The love and devotion that she gives her current and former students is astounding. My beautiful broken boy is safe with her. When he is at his worst, she still looks him in the eye and says “I love you.” She looks for ways to take the broken in my baby and help him navigate this big unforgiving world with it. She not only teaches basic education, but life skills that most take for granted. She supports her students and their family. West Wortham is so fortunate to have her. I have been in her classroom several times over the years and I watch her students respond to her. They learn from her, they feel safe with her, they are affirmed by her, and they love her.

Madison Martino Posted over a year ago

I have never met a more deserving person for this award. I am already lucky enough to call her my aunt as it is. I have watched her in and out of her classroom and she is a true mentor, friend, and most definitely a life changer. She truly gives them the best experience they can possibly have being in a classroom atmosphere. She has even helped me with students and challenges I have in my very own preschool classroom. She is a true life changer for so many, but definitely her students.

Ginger Duease Posted over a year ago

Congrats Toni!!! So very deserving of this honor!

Kaitlyn Parkinson Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is a great coworker and an even better teacher! She is so invested in the lives and futures of her students. She isn’t just trying to help them be successful in their classroom, she is equipping them with confidence and skills to be successful in life. She truly supports them!

Michele Chaffin Posted over a year ago

She's a great teacher! She supports her students in the class and out !

Michelle J Posted over a year ago

Toni is a gem, truly a one of a kind soul! She has such a thoughtful personality. She keeps a smile on her her face and puts one on the faces of those who are around her. Toni excels at providing support for her students and helping them reach their academic and personal goals. #LCOY

Penny Isgar Posted over a year ago

Ms. Martino is amazing!! She loves her students like they are her own. She teaches them many important life skills. She deserves this award!

Denise Posted over a year ago

Toni is a truly amazing and giving person. She is the absolute best advocate for her students and guides her students to believe that they can be all they strive to be!

Crystal Anderson Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is the very definition of lifechanger. As a teacher of students with special needs, Toni specializes in knowing and understanding each student’s individual and unique needs and challenges. However, she never lets that define them. She gets to know them as the people they are and makes sure that everyone else sees them for who they are and not their disability. She goes above and beyond in the classroom and out to make life better for her students, many times unbeknownst to anyone else. I’ve seen Toni provide clothes, school supplies, Christmas presents, shoes, parties to celebrate accomplishments, Thanksgiving meals, birthday parties, etc. out of her own pocket for students who otherwise would do without just to ensure her kids didn’t do without a need or an experience. Her heart is big. In addition to that, so is her brain. If I’ve ever encountered students with challenges and have been unable to help them cope or meet goals, she is always the person I go to. Her experience and knowledge is vast and she knows how to approach many situations. She doesn’t only change the lives of those she’s responsible for, she does the same for those she doesn’t know indirectly by collaborating with colleagues. She’s a rare one; I’m privileged to have had the opportunity to work with her and I’m lucky to call her my friend.

Danica Dawkins Posted over a year ago

Toni is an Agent of Change and is a natura! She gives without thinking. She encourages without fear. She supports with love. She is masterful at changing the loves of others, helping them (us) to be and become our best selves. Toni"s impacts on other lives is lasting.

Lindsey Vasquez Posted over a year ago

It is a rare gift when a person can truly see who another person is from the inside out and appreciate everything that person has to offer to the world. My fantastic friend Toni Martino does just that. She has always made the people around her feel “known” and valued. She isn’t sappy or mushy and she doesn’t see the world through rose-colored glasses. She sees it just as it is and finds joy and promise everywhere. Toni has the wonderful gift of making people feel comfortable and happy. Laughter follows her wherever she goes. She shares her special spirit freely with anyone who is in need of her. She is unique and priceless. She is my friend and your friend and certainly all of her students’ friend. I am so very proud that she continues to live with her heart out front and everything else in the background. Congratulations, T! The impact of the beautiful work that you have done over the past 16 years will continue to be seen for a lifetime to come. ??

Erin Riggins Posted over a year ago

I am so very proud of Toni Martino! She is so deserving but would never think for one minute that the things she does are worth rewarding. What she does for students, she does out of love and service to others.

Jourden champion Posted over a year ago

Toni is a phenomenal not only as a teacher but as a person all around! She makes a positive impact on everyone she meets especially the wonderful children she speaks so highly of that spend a lot of their time with her! She is the most deserving person to win!

Brandy Jones Posted over a year ago

I have never met a teacher as caring and wise as Toni Martino. She gives her time outside of school and her personal resources to ensure every one of her students have what they need. She goes above and beyond to make sure they have experiences in the community they wouldn't have otherwise. She helps others understand individuals with significant disabilities so that they are respected as people first. Toni is also extremely knowledgeable and a huge asset to others in all things behavior. I am blessed to have her as a coworker and friend.

Robin Mullen Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is one of a kind. Been knowing Toni for years and have watch her with her students over the years, she doesn't stop in the classroom she continues to be involved in there lives. Toni is a friend and a mentor to her student she never let them go with out. All of her students are blessed to have had her as a teacher. Toni is so deserving of this reward.

Pam Nevels Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is my hero. She truly loves her students and sees their strengths even when others do not. She is a great motivator, and her students accomplish things no one thought possible. It is my privilege to work with her!

Jill Bosarge Posted over a year ago

Toni is a truly amazing teacher. She always has a smile and her love radiates for her students. Toni does a wonderful job redirecting her students when they are having a melt down. She gives her whole heart to teaching!!!

Ann Medlen Posted over a year ago

Toni not only goes the extra mile with her students, but also with children she meets outside the classroom. She has a way about her that the children just connect with her. I have not met a better person that deserves this award!

Chrissy mcraney Posted over a year ago

Toni is by far so much more than just a teacher, shes absolutely one of the most beautiful, special people I've ever met, she is a true hero ,we love her more than words can say

Kathy Posted over a year ago

Thank you for all you do for your kids. You are a inspiration for all

Sara Miller Posted over a year ago

Toni is an exceptional person and teacher! She works hard to bring out the best of all her students.and to help them to achieve the best life best life they can! she is so deserving of this award

Tara Stambaugh Posted over a year ago

You could not ask for a better teacher or all around human being. She absolutely loves and adores her students! She absolutely lights up like a Christmas tree when she tells stories about her day with her babies. So proud to know her!

Melissa Assis Posted over a year ago

She has always gone over and beyond for my son Aaron. She's not only a teacher, but someone these kids look up to. She's funny as heck and always had my son laughing. She truly cares for our kids like a parent. She walked and coached my son through a 20 mile hike. That honestly I wasn't sure he could do. But with her live, courage,and strength she did it with him. I'll forever be grateful for her. I can't say enough good things about her. She truly deserves this recognition and soooooo much more.

Elizabeth Blake Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is so deserving of this recognition! She puts her students and their needs first. Her passion for what she does shines through and is an inspiration to her coworkers. Everyone should have a Toni in their life!

Ida Grigson Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is one of the kindest and most caring teachers I have had the pleasure of knowing. I don't know of any other teacher who will go above and beyond their calling the way she does. She genuinely loves her students and shows it. I can not think of a more deserving human being for this award!

Rischelle Morgan Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is the most selfless person I know. She is the perfect example of what a special education teacher should be. She is kind, loyal, hilarious, REAL, loving, and most of all a hero to her students. I have never seen a teacher so close to her kiddos. They have a special bond with her that carries on even after they leave our school. Toni doesn’t receive the spotlight she deserves and she would never ask for it, but there is no other person more deserving than her. She is a BLESSING to her students and parents, our school, and Harrison County School District.

Stacie Allen Posted over a year ago

Any encounter I have ever had with Toni has been inspiring. To see how she loves each child and treats them all equally is heart warming. She deserves recognition for everything she does for those with special needs.

Shelley Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Toni on your nomination & good luck!!!

Rachel Necaise Posted over a year ago

Toni is truly a remarkable person and teacher. Her students adore her and you can tell that they all respect her. She treats them with kindness and goes above and beyond to help them reach their goals in and out of the classroom. She is very deserving of this award and so much more!

Charnell Martino Posted over a year ago

Toni is my sister-in-law and I have seen first hand how she loves and cares for her students. The respect and love they have for her is shown all over their sweet faces. She is not only a life changer for her students but for everyone she meets.

Trang Pham-Bui Posted over a year ago

When one of her students with cerebral palsy wanted to complete a 20 mile walk to earn his Eagle Scout badge, Ms. Martino woke up bright and early on her day off to walk alongside him. Ms. Martino also helped train the student and got the whole school involved in cheering him on. Ms. Martino has touched numerous lives over the years, without seeking any attention, and she has a passion for helping students with special needs. She is quite an inspiration to us all! https://www.wlox.com/2019/01/26/special-needs-boy-scout-challenges-himself-mile-walk-gulfport/

Aundrea Ladner Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is so very deserving of these wonderful award. She is such an inspiring, caring, selfless, person. Her friends, family, but most of all students are what she lives and breathes for. Look up the recent local coverage about her and one of her students Aaron, it’s a treat to read about! I am honored to know her and pray deeply that she be awarded this! Although the recognition alone is astounding, she deserves the win!

Rachael Whisenant Posted over a year ago

My son will have Ms. Martino next year at West Wortham. I have heard and seen great things from this teacher. I am excited that my son will have her, looking forward to next school year!

Monica McQuillan Posted over a year ago

Toni Martino is such a Blessing to all that comes in contact with. She is always putting all students top priority no matter what. She deserves to be Honored for all that she does, We Thank for all your dedication and Love that you show at West Wortham daily!!!