LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Jody Pankratz

Position: Associate Principal
School: Waupaca Learning Center
School District: Waupaca School District
City, State: Waupaca, WI

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Music that Describes Jody

Jody Pankratz was nominated by an anonymous colleague.

Mrs. Pankratz is an educator, teammate, optimist, and literal life saver. She's originally from Waupaca, Wisconsin, and she returned home to change the lives of students beginning their formal education up until they complete it. She was previously a middle school math teacher for twenty years. Today, she inspires youth as an elementary school associate principal at Waupaca Learning Center. 

Mrs. Pankratz attended the Universtiy of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, earning her Bachelor's of education and completing a leadership training which has very clearly paid off. She later earned her Master's of education and her Master's in administrative leadership. She worked full time through college to support herself and uses her background as a hard worker to change the lives of students working tirelessly to help them in their individual journey.

If you were to ask any colleague or parent about her impact as an educator, leader and administrator in her school and community, the sentiments are the same.

"Mrs. Pankratz truly believes in seeing the best in every situation," said a parent. "I cannot think of another educator who has handled the ever-changing curriculum standards, increased classroom size, or other challenges as head-on and positively as Mrs. Pankratz. She refers to her co-workers as her team. I know she works within the system and supports staff that supports students. This passion matters."

When students are sent to see Mrs. Pankratz for disciplinary matters, she effectively manages the situation by expecting accountability, honesty, critical thinking and positively getting to the bottom of a situation before it blows itself up. She teaches her students to analyze the situation and the actions that got them to where they are. She also teaches them to manage emotions, changes in their home or school lives, and outside behavior beyond their control. Her calm, rational approach has helped each student she has been connected with, whether they are in kindergarten or graduating high school.

Mrs. Pankratz has held many positions within the school district of Waupaca, including middle school sports coach, drama judge, PBIS (positive behaviors interventions and supports) program leader, and after-school tutor.  Her work has played a role, not only in her personal development, but perhaps more importantly, the development of each student she connected with in each activity.

Mrs. Pankratz is an education specialist with adherence to strong moral standards. She believes in each student she works with. She invests her entire being into each situation and will always do the right thing even when it is difficult, costly or potentially bucks the status quo. Most recently, Mrs. Pankratz has been a member of the local suicide prevention coalition. She lives and embodies the prevention of loss of life every day in the way she treats her students, staff, and community members. When she learned of a student who was struggling, Mrs. Pankratz stepped up, even though they weren't in her class. She has been a literal life saver and light in this student's life by following up with them every day, cooking dinner, tutoring, and making them a part of her family. 

"Anyone who works in a school will tell you it is exhausting. You would never guess this with Jody," said her nominator. "She works tirelessly and believes whole heartedly in what she is doing. Waupaca is a very lucky community to have someone who makes everyone she meets feel special, needed and cared for."

Comments (76)

Jennifer Gross Posted over a year ago

There are very few individuals in this world that emulate the love, care and concern that Jody Pankratz has for the students and staff at Waupaca Learning Center. She exemplifies the true qualities that a “real life changer” embodies! Jody approaches her interactions with others with true kindness. Whether you are a child or adult you walk away from a conversation with Jody truly feeling heard and validated! Jody celebrates the little things! On Fridays you can hear Jody’s voice throughout the halls of the WLC exclaiming an energetic “Hip Hip Hurray” for each child that has earned a Comet Hurray during the week! It truly is inspiring to hear her celebrate each child and make sure they know how proud she is of them! The adults are equally as blessed to work along side Jody! She is an encourager and an amazing team player! She is always supportive of others while working hard to strengthen relationships with those that she seeks out or those that happen across her path?? When Jody’s job requires her to approach students due to negative choices that they have made or other sensitive topics she does so with the utmost love, care, concern and compassion. She has the ability to work with and support students in making positive behavior changes while accepting the consequences for their prior actions. YES, Jody is gifted at building, fostering and strengthening relationships!! Another strength that Jody demonstrates is organizational skill! To some this may not seem like a “life changer” quality, but to those of us who are not skilled in this area appreciate Jody and her masterful ability to efficiently work and make it look effortless while making others around her look good! I know I am repeating myself when I say that the Waupaca Learning Center is truly blessed to share each day with Jody Pankratz! She has been a life changer for so many ?? Please join us in celebrating her and all that she stands for and works towards everyday... in being a life changer!

Cory Peterson Posted over a year ago

Very deserving, kind, compassionate and full of hugs!

Lisa Andersen Posted over a year ago

There are so many words that would describe Jody. She is responsible, kind, caring, respectful, organized, diligent, fair, honest, consistent, passionate and is great at making quick decisions and problem solving. I would highly recommend her for Lifechanger of the Year - she HAS changed many lives (children & adults) in the Waupaca School District. She is not only fabulous at what she does in her job... she is a loyal friend, mother, wife, daughter, etc...Her motto is "what is right" as opposed to "being right". She has no problem interacting with each and every student, parent, staff, administration, etc. on a daily basis. She has such a good rapport with all!!!! She always considers..... "what is best for the kids" She is the type of person who challenges me to be better and I love that!!! The principal and her make such a great leadership team - they work hard each day to ensure that the day is a success for all. Being able to actively be a leader day in and day out .... and ALWAYS doing this with a smile.... is magical. The dedication Jody puts forth and the challenges she takes on is different each day depending on what is happening in the school - she is always ready and willing to stop what she is doing to support a child or teacher in any situation. I feel very blessed to be at Waupaca Learning Center - both of my principals make it enjoyable to come and teach each and every day! I truly hope the committee who is to select the winner for Lifechanger of the year chooses Mrs. Jody Pankratz ~ she is a true inspiration and because of her leadership ~ WLC continues to make gains, reach goals and work hard. What more could you want?

Liz Kneer Posted over a year ago

Jody has a heart of gold and works tirelessly to make Waupaca a better place, whether at school or with the many groups she volunteers her time. Her smile makes everyone’s day better, and she has compassion for all, especially her students that need her the most. Congratulations, Jody-I can’t think of anyone more deserving of this award!

Gabi Wennesberg Posted over a year ago

I had the absolute honor of having Mrs. Pankratz as a teacher early in my schooling. As a teacher, she was the most patient, most passionate, most understanding, most determined, most outgoing, and above all the most caring person when it came to her students. These characteristics continued far beyond the classroom as well. The same year I had her as a teacher, I also lost my dad due to suicide. I was an absolute wreck to say the least; it felt like my entire world had fallen apart. I fell into an extremely dark hole I swore I would never get out of.I was in school when I was notified about his passing, and Mrs. Pankratz was the first person I was able to turn to and just break down and tell her how bad I was hurting. She was my saving grace in such a desperate time. Although there wasn't much she could say to make the situation better, she was there with an open heart, open arms, and all of the support in the world. At times when I felt I wasn't strong enough to move on, she carried enough strength for the both of us. At times when I wanted to give up the most, she was constantly there, whether that be holding my hand or in the form of a letter. She was always there to remind me that I was never alone and that she would be with me every step of the way. I truly believe she is the reason the dark hole I was in began to get lighter and lighter as time passed on. Mrs. Pankratz is the type of person to drop absolutely everything she is doing to help out in any way she can. The word 'selfless' doesn't even begin to describe her as a person or as a teacher. She has brought so much joy, so much happiness, and so much positivity to both the school and the world. Although it has been five years since my dad's passing, she has continued to not only stay in touch but, to also continue to push me to be the best person and student I can possibly be. She is undoubtedly the best role model I have had to look up to. I could only ever dream of being half the person she is someday. Mrs. Pankratz knows no limits, does each everything with her entire heart, and cares beyond words. She has without a doubt touched the lives of every person she has ever come across, all for the better, and I am beyond thankful to have had the opportunity of crossing paths with such and unbelieve person.

Patricia Smeyers Posted over a year ago

I am a fellow nominee who was going through some harsh judgements from fighting the good fight advocating for an end to stigma and labels. Through sharing my past hardships openly and honestly, I hope to empower educators and students who struggle with mental health issues or disabilities to voice their story or ask for help. People should never fear judgement or embarrassment but silence hurts this cause. This unfortunate experience had me question my own courage and commitment I made to years ago, but I refuse lose hope. I was swimming in a sea looking for some sort of lifeboat of light and positivity to assist me and just listen. Someone to remind me of the difference I create when I believe in true self. Jody listened with an open heart, kindness, and compassion. One kind act can transform one's perception. Thank you, Jody, for being the lifeboat for the commitment I made on behalf of a child who took his life early. He is my guiding angel of strength to voice the message of unity and support. I know it can get better, the lifeboat is there, so reach out a hand. Educators can change the world, "One Mind at a Time!" I will never forget the support I found from, Jody Pankratz. You are definitely a lifeboat to many and I am grateful you reached the hand back to me when I needed it. It was an honor to cross paths through LifeChanger. What a great experience that truly changes lives of many educators and their communities.

Jeffrey Posted over a year ago

Jodi is a very nice person and a very helpful teacher.

Amber Koski Posted over a year ago

We are so lucky to you Jody!

Linda Fenton Posted over a year ago

Jody is a positive influence on both students and staff. Always smiling, always supportive, always a friend.

Andrea Fossum-Grall Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Jody! This nomination is well deserved.

Mary L Posted over a year ago

Jody is a wonderful colleague to work with. She is always positive, extremely organized and has the best interests of the students as a focus every day.

Megan Yeska Posted over a year ago

Jody has the heart of an educator who never gives up on kids!

Tina Grenlie Posted over a year ago

Jody has always had such a wonderful attitude and was one of my kids favorite teachers. She made an impact on them and I love her personality and energy. She is so deserving of this award!

Tricia Deuman Posted over a year ago

Jody is a true inspiration for our students, families, and staff. He vibrant enthusiastic energy fills our schools with positivity. She treats all whom she encounters with fairness, love, and deep sincerity. What a difference she makes in all of the lives she touches, not only at school, but throughout our community! Congratulations Jody! So proud to be your colleague!

Gail Springsteen Posted over a year ago

I had the privilege of getting to know Jody as my student at Waupaca High School. She has always been a “spark plug” in the best way possible! That smile in the photo? A constant on her face. Have an encounter with Jody? Alway walk away feeling better for it. Jody is a positive person who looks for the better (and best) solutions in every situation. She is innovative and full of joy and enthusiasm. Her positive influence at the WLC for the students and the school as a whole has been immeasurable. I’m so proud of and happy for all she has done throughout her life!

Jennifer Lewis Posted over a year ago

Jody loves her job and loves the students. She expects students to follow the Waupaca Way and if they aren't, works with them to be better at it. She supports the teachers, staff, and students with a smile on her face. Love her!

Nikki Johndro Posted over a year ago

Words to describe Jody....there are too many! She is truly an amazing person, friend, and educator! Jody has a spark of personality that will light up any room, anywhere, at any time. She dedicates more than her school day to the students and staff around our building. She is a motivator, a caregiver, and an inspiration to all. Jody more than deserves this as she is ONE OF A KIND!!

Jamie T. Posted over a year ago

Jody has added tremendously to the already positive, supportive, collaborative, family environment that exists at the Waupaca Learning Center. She truly embodies each of these qualities and is such a strong leader. Close connections with staff, students, and the community are what make her able to change lives the way she does. We love you Jody!

Elizabeth Krcmar Posted over a year ago

Below is a link to a Spotify Playlist. I created a Spotify playlist to include songs that, to me, represent what Jody is all about. In case you do not have Spotify, I listed the songs I chose and gave a brief description of why. 1. Count on Me by Bruno Mars. You can always count on Jody. She helps anyone when they need it. Whether you are a student, staff member, or parent. 2. A Million Dreams - from The Greatest Showman. Jody not only has dreams of making the world a better place, she acts on those dreams to make sure the WLC is a better place. 3. You’ve Got a Friend in Me by James Taylor. All you have to do is call, and Jody will be there. 4. Return to Pooh Corner by Kenny Loggins. If you are stuck or have lost your way, 5 minutes spent with Jody will chase your clouds away. 5. I’ll Be There For You - Theme from Friends. Need I say more...Jody is always “there for you”. 6. We Are Family by Sister Sledge. Jody treats everyone like family. Caring, kind, and generous with her time. She makes sure the WLC students and staff feel like one big family. 7. See The Light by Toby Mac. Jody is a bright light in the lives of all who know her. 8. Bridge Over Troubled Water by Simon and Garfunkel. If Jody knew you needed to walk on her to reach something, she would literally lay down and let you walk across her. 9. Someone Saved My Life Tonight by Elton John. Jody loves butterflies. In this song, Elton John sings about butterflies are free to fly. Jody helps give the students at the WLC their wings so they can fly. 10. The World’s Greatest by R. Kelly. Many students, staff, and parents would say she is the world’s greatest Vice Principal. 11. Lean On Me by Club Nouveau. You can lean on Jody and she will help you carry on. 12. Friendly, Gentle, Sharing, Courageous by Teeny Tiny Stevies. This is a children’s song, but thought the words fit Jody perfectly as to how she treats others. Leading by example, Jody is friendly, gentle, shares her talents, and is a courageous leader. She helps instill these values in the WLC students. 13. For Good by Kristin Chenoweth and Idina Menzel from Wicked. I speak from the heart when I say Jody has changed my life for good. 14. Smile by Sidewalk Prophets. Jody is always sharing her smile. This upbeat song epitomizes Jody’s personality and the way she treats people.

Charlotte Bergsbaken Posted over a year ago

She is a wonderful teacher, always willing to help students even if they weren’t in her class. Staying late and helping with after school programs.

Karen Bodenheimer Posted over a year ago

She is a wonderful person

Cassie Menadue Posted over a year ago

I've never met an educator and person so amazing as Jody!! I've known her for many years as I went to school with her son. She's definitely a role model for ALL educators and people in the community!

Jen Van Gysel Posted over a year ago

Jody is not only an excellent educator, but a wonderful friend. She is positive, optimistic while being realistic, and someone who can be consulted when life throws you curveballs. How wonderful that she has been nominated for this honor. Waupaca is a better place with Jody in it. Miss you girl!

Leslie Oleson Posted over a year ago

Jody is a truly positive influence on both students and staff. She is thoughtful and caring. Jody makes sure to show that each person she interacts with feels important. Her bright smile is encouragement to all! She is very deserving of the Life Changer of the Year nomination.

Beth Leach Posted over a year ago

Jody has a way of making everyone-students, staff, and parents feel welcomed and appreciated. After leaving a district that I spent 26 years in, I am in my second year of working at the WLC. Jody, along with the rest of the staff (because of Jody’s personality and leadership ??) have made me feel like I’ve been working in this school my whole teaching career. It feels like home. Jody truly cares about staff and students. She goes above and beyond to make sure everyone in the school is feeling welcomed, cared for, and appreciated. She handles problems/situations with love, care, and kindness. Her bubbly personality makes everyone feel excited and happy. Students love Jody as she interacts well with them. She handles disciplinary problems well. I feel so blessed to work in this school. Both the staff and the students are truly impacted by the wonderful caring person Jody is. Thank you, Jody!!!

Susan Harrington Posted over a year ago

Jody is a light at our school. She is someone we can all count on for a word of encouragement or a shoulder to cry on. We are all better for having her in our lives. This is a well deserved nomination!

Elizabeth Krcmar Posted over a year ago

Jody is truly a one-of-a kind life changer. She has an amazing ability to know exactly how to make any problem you have better. She can magically fix your worries with a light-hearted joke, offers a piece of chocolate if you just need a little pick me up, or will listen when you need to vent. She likes to make things better for everyone she knows. She goes above and beyond all day long. Whether it be helping a student in the midst of a meltdown, talking with a worried parent, or effectively coaching a teacher on how to handle a tough situation, she does it with ease. I truly cannot think of a more deserving individual. The WLC is a better place because of Jody. Thank you Jody for all you do everyday, and for changing all of our lives for the better!

Lori Zelinske Posted over a year ago

Jody is simply amazing in every area, relationship, and situation. She is in tune with the kids, staff, and parents. Her infectious smile, bubbly personality, and thoughtful demeanor draw people to her. She often knows what people need...even before they do. She is dedicated, determined, and diverse. She is an integral figure throughout the school and that vibrant energy is inspiring. She wouldn't ask anyone to do something she wouldn't do herself, yet knows how to light a spark of motivation. She is grateful for each person and situation that crosses her path and keeps her perspective. We are truly blessed to work with Jody. She continues to be a terrific role model for the Elementary school, her family, and our entire community. Thanks Jody for sharing your special gifts.

Kay Ellingson Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Jody! You are certainly deserving of the wonderful recognition! I have witnessed first-hand the magic you possess when helping students at the Waupaca Learning Center. Your consistent positive demeanor is infectious to all of us who work with you.

Crystal Vida Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Pankratz is a very positive influence on all of the students in our building. She always takes the time to check in with students and staff members, and truly cares about all those she comes in contact with each day. Congratulations on your nomination, Jody!

Kelly Baumgart Posted over a year ago

Leadership and Caring all wrapped up in one Vice-Principal. I watch Jody greet, care, and interact with students with authenticity. She can re-direct with kind firmness. She sets the limits, lets the kids know what the expectations are and then affirms them individually and in front of others. What an effective style. Then add her mathematical brain and attention to detail. She can watch, read, and listen and give specific feedback to help staff and students. She will catch the misprints, errors, and mistakes and gently make suggestions. She is constantly thinking of how to care for others but wears the administrator hat well. She is a team player, looking and extracting suggestions and ideas from the staff. Her positive demeanor is seen at school and within the community. She remembers the names of students from years back and does her best to keep in contact with them. I think she is an incredible life-changing game-changing model. Oh, and she is Safe Responsible Respectful and Prepared. The Waupaca Way.

Danielle McHugh Posted over a year ago

You are truly a person with a passion to help, heal and allow others to succeed with ease. You are a natural at being a genuine person 24 hours a day 365 days a year. ? education

Terri Ricker Posted over a year ago

Jody is a very positive person and very well liked by all of us and mainly the children. She always has a smile on her face and makes everyone feel welcome. She takes all the children under her wings as though they were her own. We are so lucky to have her at The Waupaca Learning Center.

Denise Seefeldt Posted over a year ago

Jody is a friend or a mother to everyone she knows. Sometimes a little of both :)

Kim Miller Posted over a year ago

Jody is such a positive force at our school and she is a wonderful support. We are lucky to have her at the WLC. It is very apparent that she loves the kids and they love her back. Congratulations! This is well deserved.

Lisa Mikolajczak Posted over a year ago

Jody is such a joy to work with and makes going to work enjoyable. She is an approachable person who has an ability to build long lasting caring relationships. Her positive attitude is contagious and work ethic has an impact to inspire others. Her deep knowledge and passion for everything she does is motivational. Jody has a continuous flow of high energy and awesome ability to think of great ideas on the spot to help in any given situation. Her enthusiastic behavior is moving and brightens the atmosphere. Jody is always able to work her magic in understanding each and every child as well as adult.

Mary Erspamer Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Jody! You truly are a life changer! Your warmth and kindness shines on every student at our school.

Stacey Donovan Posted over a year ago

When I hear people talk about Jody, I don’t tell them that I am her sister right away because I want to hear what they honestly think of her. Each and every time, all I hear is about how amazing Jody is. If it’s a parent, they praise her for being there for the children. If it’s a former student, all I hear is about how she was the best teacher they ever had because she cared when nobody else did. I’ve heard from some parents how she would show up at the hospital in the middle of the night and stay all night when tragedy struck. She gives her all and when I talk to her, it seems like she always has a headache but doesn’t complain. Many times when I call her at home, there is a teenage student there that she is helping and she’s not even a teacher anymore. That’s what I call caring and true dedication. Although we fought a lot growing up, I quickly learned that Jody is absolutely amazing and I couldn’t ask for a better sister. I am proud to call her my sister. I couldn’t ask for a better role model for me or my children. I wish I could be half the person she is.

Holly behm Posted over a year ago

There aren’t enough words to describe Jody! So selfless, so caring & so understanding. I love that when you talk to her about anything, she’s always 100% present & listening. She’s got a sense of humor that just makes you want to be around her because she makes you feel so good. People (especially children) are just drawn to her. Oh, and she can sing, anywhere, anytime! I just love her so much! Thank you God for giving us Jody!

Becky Liegl Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on the nomination, Jody! What a worthy recipient of such a nomination! Jody goes out of her way each and every day to make sure students, staff, and parents feel welcomed and cared about. Kudos to you, Jody!

Sandi Moore Posted over a year ago

Congratulations on your nomination, Jody! You are great at school and also a valued member of the community. Thanks for all you do!

Victoria Nowak Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Pankratz has always been very supportive and understanding of her students. She was my 8th grade math teacher and went above and beyond for her students, whether that meant helping during her prep time, hosting after school review sessions, and so much more. Mrs. Pankratz is very deserving of this award!

Robyn Bailey Posted over a year ago

Jody, your compassion for the students as well as their families makes you stand out from the rest! You are truly an inspiration to everyone around you. Can not think of a person more deserving!

Stacey Donovan Posted over a year ago

Way to go Jody! You’re a great role model and I’m proud to call you my sister!

Jennifer Johnson Posted over a year ago

This does not even start to describe the love, support, and countless hours Jody provides to students and staff! Your constant effort to make every life better is awe inspiring!

Kayla Salter Posted over a year ago are a one of a kind friend, classmate, co-worker and, and colleague! You are so positive, a delight to work with and to vent to. LOL Love ya girl always! Thank you for ALL you do for the Waupaca School District and Go Riteway!

Nick Pankratz Posted over a year ago

Education is and always has been a very important part of Jody. I am grateful that she has instilled this same value into our three sons.

Alex pankratz Posted over a year ago

She is dedicated to her job, she is the first one there and last one to leave making sure all of here students are doing well and are safe. She will do anything to help a student. As her son she works long hours to make every kid enjoy school and to help them out if they need it. She never backs down from a challenge and I have never seen a mom work so hard to help her students and kids. She puts in the time and deserves this. I might be biased, but honestly she tries her hardest and has inspired many students in her close to 30 years of teaching. I used to sit in her classroom and watch her inspire kids. She would never leave until every kid new what they were learning or just needed a place to stay or think. She truly is a talented teacher and administrator. She is deserving.

JC Colbert Posted over a year ago

Jody has helped me through so much. She has been there when I need her the most and feels like a mother figure to me. She is very kind and very helpful to my life

Kathy Alan Posted over a year ago

Jody is very deserving of this award! Phenomenal educator, who made a difference in my son's education as a 7th grader. As a colleague and friend, Jody is a gem in the world of education, and touches the lives of children every day.

Jake Posted over a year ago


Chloe Abrahamson Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Pankratz has always been such a supportive teacher who is also very welcoming and makes you feel loved. She has impacted many lives in such positive ways, a true blessing to the Waupaca school district!

Sarah Schemenauer Posted over a year ago

I can’t think of a more deserving person for this award. Jody always goes out of her way to make everyone feel as if they are family. She definitely is a life-changer for so many!

Lisa Abrahamson Posted over a year ago

Thank you for giving such positive energy to the WLC and Waupaca community!! You always think of others first!

Casey Posted over a year ago

Nobody is more deserving than Jody! She is such an amazing person and leader. Waupaca is so very fortunate to have her here for our children.

Tori Revoir Posted over a year ago

Jody is such a kind-hearted leader who is always positive and thinking of others. She lights up a room with her charming smile and upbeat personality. Jody cares about her colleagues and each student in her school. She knows how to connect with them by building positive relationships. Jody is someone I look up to and wish her the very best. She is very deserving of this award.

Cole Pankratz Posted over a year ago

She always looks at how to make others succeed and bring out the good in everyone as a teacher (my 8th grade teacher), a principal (who talks to her son about his teaching job), and with the family.

Sandy Dear-Bailie Posted over a year ago

Jody is a definite asset to the students of the Waupaca school district. As a colleague for many years, I have seen first hand the exuberance and joy that makes a positive influence on students and her fellow staff members. As a middle school math teacher, she connected with her students and made a difference. As an associate principal at the elementary school, she provides encouragement and discipline while showing students that she cares about them. She is well deserving of this honor.

Megan Swisher Posted over a year ago

Kind to every single student she sees and always has a smile!

Brianna H Posted over a year ago

Can’t think of a more deserving person!! Both my kids just love her and my son with Autism feels so safe going to her and loves giving her big hugs!! Thanks for such a big heart and doing so much for all the kids at WLC!!!

Sue Jacobson Posted over a year ago

Her enthusiasm for living is contagious. My experience when working with her was positive and she demonstrated having the students interests first. She was never a 7:30 to 3:30 teacher.

Nichole Thorne Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Pankratz was my 8th grade math teacher. In class. She pushed me to challenge myself. She was always there for me and always believed in me. She would give me assignments that actually challenged me. I didn't have many teachers that did that. She was a huge reason I went on to become a teacher. In college, I came back to Mrs. Pankratz to learn how to be a better teacher. I could not have had a better mentor. Watching her work with kids was amazing. In middle school, math is not every student's favorite subject. Students are not always interested in school either at this time in their lives. Mrs. Pankratz took the time to relate the math to her students. For example, she had a student who shut down and didn't want to do his work. She knew he was into computers and related it to him in how math works with computers. Mrs. Pankratz is one of the only math teachers I have had that can relate math to real life. She is why I got a minor in math. I wanted to be just like her. I wanted to know how to relate math to students, understand the why of math and how to explain the why to my students. This is something not many teachers could do and that frustrated me. Mrs. Pankratz inspired me to, like her, teach math in a way that would connect to my students. I went on to teach in the Waupaca School District where Mrs. Pankratz is a vice principal. I have taught 4th grade for two years and 1st grade for one year. Over the course of my teaching I have witnessed Mrs. Pankratz in a new light. She has done wonderful things in our school with PBIS. I have seen her work one on one with students who are really struggling. She takes the time to really understand them and relate to them. The students know that they have someone they can go to and feel safe with. They know there is someone in the school who will listen and connect with them. Not only does Mrs. Pankratz do amazing things with the students, she also supports her staff. She will pull them in and make sure life is going okay as well as school life. She actually cares about the well being of her coworkers. Mrs. Pankratz is one of the biggest life changers I could ever think of. She is more than deserving of this award.

Sharyn Hayes Posted over a year ago

Anytime she is in the grocery store, the street, the park, or the gym, the kids all flock to her. She goes above and beyond for students that are not even at her school. I have known since she was 9 months old she were a people person. She talked to everyone she met. She has encouraged others ever since - even me and I am her mom.

Lori Rodencal Posted over a year ago

I have known Jody for most of her life and even as a kid growing up she was helping others. She is kind and considerate of others and knows how to effectively communicate in whatever situation arises. I have seen her interactions with students, parents and fellow staff on occasions and it is top notch - Waupaca is very fortunate to have such an outstanding person in their school system!

Beth Wohlrabe Posted over a year ago

Jody, you are a positive role model to everyone you meet! You are always smiling no matter what the day brings your way. Thank you for all that you do.

Jamie Schroeder Posted over a year ago

Our kids are so fortunate to have Mrs. Pankratz as a leader and mentor at WLC. She encompasses every quality both colleagues and students alike would want in her position. Not only is she knowledgeable, driven and continually learning and evolving, but she also has a genuinely kind spirit and aura about her. She cares a great deal for our kids growth and well being. My daughter was a shy one beginning Kindergarten, and I can always tell when someone has taken the extra time to nurture her needs. She gravitates toward genuine people, and Mrs. Pankratz is one that she is drawn to. She always has a smile on and warm welcomes. She shows interest and builds relationships with students, asks them about activities and really engages with them. As a parent, it is good knowing my child can learn in an environment of comfort and trust during her school day with remarkable leaders like Mrs. Pankratz.

Carol Weinmann Posted over a year ago

Congratulations to Jody! Jody ALWAYS has a smile on her face and encouraging words for students, staff & parents, even Grandma's! It's obvious that she is loved and respected by her students. And the feeling is mutual, Iam sure. A lot of hugs, thumbs up and smiles between Jody and students. It brings joy to my heart to see her respect and care for each child. Thanks Jody!

John Erspamer Posted over a year ago

The name of this award is exactly who Jody is on a daily basis! I have personally witnessed her change the lives of students and adults. Jody possesses the ability to know exactly what people need to hear and backs up her words with actions. She is genuine and authentic and people can feel it. Our school and community are fortunate to have Jody.

Betty Kettlewell Posted over a year ago

Jody Pankratz deserves this reward because she really cares about the students. She treats everyone with respect and compassion. She is a really nice and caring person who will help anyone.

Susan Dolski Posted over a year ago

Jody is a great person through and through. She always has students' best interests in mind with every decision she makes and action she takes. I hope she wins this award, she truly deserves to.

Lori Everts Posted over a year ago

Congratulations! You always share your smile and enthusiasm wherever you go. Thank you for bringing happiness to others.

Jessica Kasprick Posted over a year ago

No matter where I run into her, whether it be a local sporting event or the grocery store, she still gives me one of those hugs that let's me know that everything is going to be ok.... out of anyone in this world she is the one who deserves this award!

Jessica Kasprick Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Pankratz started out as my 8th grade math teacher 14 years ago. I never knew how big of an impact she would later become in my life. 14 years ago I noticed I was having troubles with my hips, lots of pain and a hard time walking. My mom called my neurologist down at children's hospital and they said to rush me down there immediately. I stopped in mrs. Pankratz class room to grab the homework I was going to miss. As I was bawling, she grabbed me and held me tight telling me it was going to be ok, that I was going to be fine. I left school that day feeling a little better because of her. Sunday night came around and I was finally back home. The phone rang and it was Mrs. Pankratz! She called to see how I was doing.... No teacher ever does that... But she did! Since then I have been able to count on her for anything! When I heard about a young student who was in trouble mentally, I contacted her and she helped me get him the help he needed. 14 years later, I was struggling in my marriage and she took it upon herself to message me to make sure I was ok and if I needed anyone she is there. To this day she will randomly message me making sure I'm ok and that she is always there. No matter where I run into her whether it be sporting

Amy Boldt Posted over a year ago

Jody is a true professional, a giving friend, and an advocate for all students. She has a natural ability to connect with students, which is remarkable to witness. She has great energy and a beautiful heart and soul. She makes anyone she comes into contact with feel special. She has high expectations of herself, and her students, which provides them with the confidence and support to achieve at a level they didn't believe existed. Jody is one of a kind. A true blessing in the lives of many.

Wendy Barbeau Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Pankratz is always ready with a smile to personally greet each of her students and check in with them. She knows and cares about every child and every family she works with. We are lucky to have her in our district!

Cassie Posted over a year ago

Well deserved nomination! #Waupacaproud