LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Johanna Day

Position: School Counselor
School: Joplin High School
School District: Joplin Schools
City, State: Joplin, MO

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Johanna "Sue" Day was nominated by her superintendent, Melinda Moss.

"Whenever we have a student in need of assistance at our high school, Sue Day is someone who frequently comes to mind," said Moss. "One of Sue's colleagues reported that over the years, Sue has helped many students find safe places to live, medical or emotional assistance, FAFSA/college application/enrollment assistance, and scholarship aid. One time, she actually met one of our students at Crowder Community College and walked her through the process of finding her classes, getting her books, and finding a place to live. This student was the first in her family to go to college. There is little Sue won't do to help the students at Joplin High School be successful and safe."

Ms. Day is always available for her students, families, and co-workers.  Whether it's early in the morning or in the evening, she'll always make herself available to anyone that needs her support or assistance. By forging strong relationships with students and families, she has impacted virtually every aspect of students' lives, teaching them the important life lessons that will help them succeed beyond term papers and standardized tests.

Ms. Day attends technology school meetings and serves on numerous advisory boards, ad hoc committees that initiate scholarship opportunities for students, and much more. She doesn't do this for any extra pay, but because it's important to her to know that the committees have been done well.  Her focus on student needs, regardless of the need, has been outstanding for her entire career.

"Every student in every school has had that one instructor who can, almost without effort, bring a smile to the faces of their students. For me, that person is JHS counselor Ms. Day," said Krusha Bhakta, a former Joplin High School student. “(She) always makes it a priority to remind me of just how much potential I possess. Every time I step into her office, she greets me with excitement and an embrace. In all of our encounters, she has made one thing very clear: She believes in me...Above all else, she gave me the most important and crucial gift of all: her friendship."

Ms. Day has been a vital part of high school leadership through her work, and her reputation is a valuable resource for school improvement.  Her ability to help others is actively sought by her peers, students, and parents.  She is someone in the school others that turn to when they need help for a problem or assistance in how to deal with a unique situation.  Her ability to bring people together to solve problems is excellent, and she frequently serves as a liaison between administration and the instructional staff.  

In addition, Ms. Day served on the school’s steering committee for many years, and she maintains the Eagle Advantage program.  The Eagle Advantage Program was modeled after the state’s career ladder program for teachers to improve their practice and for tutoring students. Ms. Day's knowledge of professional development, the school improvement plan, and how teachers can meet the needs of the school for improvement while accessing additional pay for extra work has been a big benefit to the district. She does this because she can, and because she wants it to be done fairly for not only students, but for staff and the district. Her years of experience have provided her with insights to what is appropriate and what needs to be questioned. 

Ms. Day also maintains the Missouri A+ program.  The Missouri A+ Program helps students with good high school grades, attendance, and behaviors enter Missouri junior colleges with free tuition and books. She works with many needy families to enroll their students in the program, monitor their progress, and help them reach their goals of being first-generation college students. This work cannot be understated.  Her work has influenced thousands of students to pursue their college dreams. 

This type of work also extends to the school district’s Innovation Campus Program.  The Innovation Campus Program allows students who meet federal guidelines for assistance to enroll in college-level classes while in high school.  Ms. Day has implemented, monitored, and guided the program since its inception.  This program has made a profound difference in the number of first-generation college students coming from Joplin High School to have a “leg up” when they enroll in college full time after high school.  

Ms. Day is vital to the programs for which she is responsible. She attends Site Council meetings and works with many other department heads and school leaders to make sure that all of the students have opportunities to grow. Ms. Day is always available for students, families, faculty, and staff who need advice, support, or just someone to listen.  She is always on the front lines of student academic success, whether it's Harvard University applications or tough conversations about a failed math course.  Ms. Day treats each student with compassion and caring honesty.  Her life-long dedication to education and working with students is apparent every day in every interaction with students.  Students and staff alike look up to her, not only as a school counselor, but as a friend and mentor.  

Educators typically enter the field because they want to make a positive difference for kids, but it's not every day that an extraordinary soul comes along whose efforts at building relationships and validating the worth of individuals goes above and beyond what others are willing to give.  Ms. Day has been notorious for helping students find apartments or another safe place to live. She locates resources for pregnant girls, helps with college applications, and takes the time to listen and offer hope to students who feel lost. Her knowledge bank is so broad in getting into colleges and what students need to do. If it's feasible and a student really wants it, she will make it happen. She is very knowledgeable in ways to get money for college.

While she is one of the kindest souls around, she is not afraid to give kids a good kick in the rear when they need it. She holds them accountable and helps them hold fast to their dreams. Many students whose lives have been impacted by her willingness to go above and beyond to help them reach their goals still have contact with her years later. For 48 years, Ms. Day has truly created a culture of change, one student at a time.

"I remember one day in particular when Sue made a difference for two of my girls," teacher and colleague Susan Primm said. "One day, in seventh hour, I had a student have a meltdown. Her mother had sold her dogs for various reasons, and her dogs were her only reason to live. She was suicidal. I took her out to a quiet place and texted Sue to ask her to come help. She had actually left already for the day as she is part-time, but she came back and was able to help that student."

"Before she left, and right after school was out, I had a second student approach me," said Primm. "This student had been in the hospital for a while and had made the decision to homeschool. She was returning my books and told me that her parents were mistaken if they thought it would stop her from committing suicide or self-harming. She would have even more opportunities. I texted Sue, again, asking for further assistance. Both of those girls were in very dark places in their lives, and for both, Sue was able to get them the assistance they needed to see life as meaningful. I will never forget that day, as I had almost taken a day off because of a brief illness but decided it was easier to plow through. Had I not been there to contact Sue, I don’t know that either of those girls would have reached out. I was humbled to be the conduit between troubled students and a guardian angel."

Anyone who has watched Ms. Day as she combs through Eagle Advantage requests knows that she will not back any requests that she believes are not honest or appropriate for the program. She's like this with everything she does, including the recognition of A+ students. She has a strong sense of right and wrong, and she will not compromise that just to make someone happy or to save herself trouble. Ms. Day is a standard-bearer for all of us to follow. 

“Approximately 20 years after attending Joplin High School, I find that I recall the informal education I received between classes more vividly than the formal education prepared meticulously for me within the syllabus," said James Skelley, a former student who is now an MIT graduate and patent attorney. "Ms. Day was a large part of that informal education. By helping me navigate the byzantine list of courses, summer programs, projects, college requirements, etc., she taught me about quiet perseverance. She taught me about the importance and the elegance of diplomacy, and about seeing bureaucracy not simply as an obstacle, but as a vehicle for opportunity, both for myself and for others.  I learned a lot of subjects in a lot of classrooms – but in her office, I learned about life.”  

“With our oldest son, Ms. Day encouraged him to try for a national science program that we had never heard of or even considered," said Billie Skelley, James' mother. "While the program seemed remarkable, we were reluctant to encourage our son because the competition seemed fierce, the odds were not in his favor, and we did not want him to be disappointed. Ms. Day encouraged each of our children to shoot for the moon. As she once said, 'Even if you don’t land on the lunar surface, you’ll know you tried, and you’ll still be in the heavens among the stars.'"

"Sue has been changing students' lives for more than forty-eight years," said Moss. "With consummate skill, she has given her heart and soul to make a positive difference."

Comments (57)

Jean Donan Louis Posted over a year ago

We would like to take that opportunity to thank all members of the school system from Janitors, Bus drivers, teachers, administrative staff, and principals nationwide for their most valuable service to our beloved children and the communities at large. A special thank you to Mrs. Johanna Day for her service as a counselor, a winner of the 2020 prize. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!!!

Leanna Carrol Posted over a year ago

I have known Sue for almost 20 years. I loved reading this because my own children attended Joplin Schools as well as nieces and nephews and I'm sure they would agree that Sue has been a great inspiration to so many students.

LaTosha Bennett Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Johanna. I am so happy to see you win such a distinguished award. Schools need more dedicated counselors as yourself. Thank you for caring about students’ futures and well being.

Claudine James Posted over a year ago

Wow. Congratulations on receiving LOY award. But more importantly congratulations of your tenured teaching profession - many years of service. Your dedication to the profession is beyond admirable. May you enjoy the rewards of your new honor.

H Randall Craig, MD Posted over a year ago

I would like to comment on what I would consider Sue Day's most significant personal and career achievement - her herculean effort to rebuild the Counseling Office and successfully guide her students along their life and career paths after Joplin High School was destroyed by a tornado. On May 22, 2011, the entire high school and vocational school were reduced to rubble by the historic F5 Joplin Tornado. Five students and a staff member were killed and the entire school infrastructure was destroyed. During the subsequent three months Sue Day worked 14 hour days to help cobble together an entire high school from scratch in a large abandoned department store at a nearby mall, allowing the students to resume their education when the fall semester opened on time. Over the next 18 months, she patched together a fully functional Counseling Office on the fly, innovating office space, computer systems, piecemeal records, and urgent grant applications on a minute by minute basis, all the while counseling hundreds of traumatized students who had lost homes, family, and classmates.Sitting in folding chairs at card tables between cloth partitions, Sue Day continued to guide and assist students in college applications and vocational career preparation without missing a beat. When the new high school construction was completed, she successfully transitioned the counseling department to the administration building and again rebuilt a fully functional office. She accomplished this immense achievement without a single complaint, which is no surprise to those of us who know her. In summary, Sue Day was instrumental in the recovery and rebirth of Joplin High School after its complete destruction, out of her dedication to her students and coworkers.

Brett Meeker Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Sue since I came to work at MSSU. She is my counterpart at the high school. She certainly makes my job easier. Not a day goes by where I don't have contact with her in some manner by e-mail or phone. We seem to be in constant contact about students taking college classes. She takes their success very seriously. I have seen her spend countless hours working with students making sure they are content with the classes they are taking. After that she will work with them to make sure their needs are met and they have all the information they need to be successful. She will communicate with the student and their parent in any and every manner that she can- she has even driven out to a student's home before . I am so blessed to work with her and hope to work with her for years to come.

Autumn Lewis Spicher Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Day is an amazing woman who is so deserving of this award. From my freshman year, she was so caring and kind to me. Mrs. Day was an expert about college and scholarship applications and provided me with so much help and counsel as I planned for this next step in my life. She was an amazing sounding board for talking through various issues and was always available to lend an ear. Mrs. Day has a unique ability to provide advice in a way that resonates with teenagers and she helped me make the absolute best decision for my future. She truly deserves the world for all of her service to the students and families of JHS!

R. Jeff Warstler Posted over a year ago

Ms. Sue Day exemplifies what being a school counselor is all about. I had the privilege of working with her for 25 years in a building which, for much of that time, had a student population of well over 2000. Words cannot describe her ability to make each and every student (whether that student was part of her alphabet or not), feel like he/she was genuinely loved, cared for, supported, and encouraged. Her keen interest of people extended beyond their years in high school and into their lives as adults. Over the years, I served with her on multiple committees as we "hashed out" issues and developed programs that would benefit kids. She was always able to see the big picture and, at the same time, be ever considerate of how our decisions might affect each individual. Sue is not one to "sugar coat" things. I was and am continually amazed by her ability to speak truth into tough situations and, at the same time, show empathy and concern in that way that only she, with her sweet spirit, can do. Sue changed the lives of more than her students. I often arrived at work early or stayed late. Sue was always there. She was eager to listen, advise when needed, and motivate me to see the best in any situation. I consider her a true friend and one of my very best mentors. She is most definitely a life changer. She has changed and enriched the lives of my family, the thousands upon thousands of students who attended Joplin Schools, and the Joplin Community. I can think of no one that is more deserving to be recognized as Life Changer of the Year than Ms. Sue Day.

Cheryl Warstler Posted over a year ago

A life changer....that is a good way to describe Sue Day. As a parent of three JHS students, she has been very instrumental in their high school instructional process, everything from helping them pick the courses that would best benefit their future college/career plans, encouragement and direction with the A+ Program, pointing out scholarship opportunities and just general tips and pointers to navigate from high school to college and beyond. My children are now a teacher, mechanical engineer and social worker/missionary and she has helped thousands of students in this same way. Many students enter high school not aware of all the opportunities that they have available to them and Sue makes it a point to educate them. I know there are many former students who went to college and earned a degree because of the A+ Program. These former students wouldn't have known how it could help them pay for college until Sue introduced them to the program and encouraged them to participate. There are many of our former students that earned a college degree because of Sue's encouragement, talk about life changing..... As a co-worker for 18 years, Sue has been a person that we can all rely on for advice, wisdom, stability and knowledge of the many, various processes at JHS. She has the background knowledge to know what has worked, what has needed to be changed or implemented and effective with those changes. She gets the big picture and is a great resource for Joplin Schools. As a friend for 18 years, Sue is a person who is genuinely compassionate and thoughtful. She is the first person to congratulate you in the good times, console you in the sad times, keeps up with your family and she even took the time to come to both of my parents funerals, I was truly touched. Sue is like this with all of those around her. Sue Day is a person who gives her all in everything that she does, is someone to admire and respect. I enthusiastically nominate Sue for this award.

Carma Stehm Posted over a year ago

Ms. Day was the counselor for all four of my children. She was always so kind to them and helped us navigate the A plus program when it had just begun. When they had class schedule issues she was right on it to solve the issue. I know they felt listened to and truly liked. She is as genuine as they come. She was a blessing to our family. Love you Ms. Day.

Suzanne Dimmit Posted over a year ago

In the 17 years I've known Sue Day, she has been my co-worker, a trusted scholastic advisor to my children, and my friend. Working as the high school guidance secretary for 7 years, I witnessed on a daily basis her devotion to Joplin High School students, to the school itself, and to the broader academic community. She was often the first to arrive and the last to leave, never closing her door to anyone who sought her advice or expertise. Sue made it a point to really know her students because she cared about them and wanted to do her very best to make a difference in their lives. Years after I left the guidance office for a different position in the district, I continued to be amazed by Sue's ability to remember her students, as well as academic policies from decades earlier. More than once, her wealth of knowledge was the only way the district was able to assist a past student in retrieving important records. In addition to her service to students, Sue freely gives her support and encouragement to her colleagues and co-workers, from one end of the spectrum to the other. It is impossible not to feel valued when you interact with Sue Day. This is her gift to every person in every organization to which she commits herself. It follows from all of this that Sue should be a valuable friend, and she truly is that. Of all the people I met in my 23 years in Joplin, Sue was the one I absolutely had to see in person before moving away. In so many ways, both personal and professional, Sue IS a life-changer for me and for countless others.

Arleen Thomas Posted over a year ago

Ms Day is a one in a million counselor. My daughter was a teen mom. Ms. Day kept her on track with all her school work. She went above and beyond with making sure her home school experience was just as great as her in school experience. Her encouragement was truly valued at this difficult time in her life. She helped her so much with the next phase of her life, going on to college. Ms. Day gave her solid advice about picking schools, getting her ACT test done, what to look for, tuition cost, helped her with scholarship paperwork and filling out grant paperwork for college. She never once degraded her for her situation or discouraged her from any goals or dreams she had even being a teen mom. I am more than grateful to Ms. Day for all she did for my daughter and all the students that she counsels. Her dedication to her students and school is beyond measure. If I could nominate her for Sainthood I would. Ms.Day deserves every accolade that can and should be given to this esteem counselor.

Heather Surbrugg Posted over a year ago

Ms Day is an incredible educator and counselor who cares genuinely about all of her students. She is eager to help everyone and helps students get engaged in the A+ program including explaining the benefits of this incredible program. She has been so helpful to answer emails and calls when assistance is needed. I am so excited that she has been nominated as a "Lifechanger". She truly is and my children have been very fortunate to have her help during their high school years. She is very deserving of this incredible award.

Justin Coyne Posted over a year ago

To me, she’s always just been “mom.” But to Joplin, my mom has always been a Life Changer. I grew up with the knowledge that my success and future were of utmost importance to my mom, but it was also more than that. I knew that each student in her counseling roster were just as important to her. Not because she had to care, but because it was in her nature. She’s spent hours and days and years of her life working to help her students realize their potential, from unlikely achievers, to valedictorians and everywhere in between. Strangely enough, I didn’t go to school where my mom worked, and even still, I knew of her impact on Joplin students. I can admit that there were times I was a little jealous of how intensely dedicated she was to her students’ needs. But now, as an adult and parent myself, I see it for what it was. I see her for what she is. She’s an unflappable waymaker. An encourager. A believer. A helper. It’s in her blood. To say I’m thankful for her influence in my life is an understatement. There are no words to say it the right way. I’m so proud to see these comments lined up singing her praises – people all across Joplin are saying what I’ve known for years: my mom is a quiet, steady force. She deserves all this and more.

Sarah Coyne Posted over a year ago

Even though she wasn’t my counselor, by the time I graduated from Joplin High School in 2000, I knew of the legendary Sue Day. While my own counselor was wonderful, and I still remember her efforts on my behalf, Mrs. Day was the counselor all the students wanted to help guide their paths; I was no different. It was said that Mrs. Day could move mountains, and WOULD move mountains, to help you reach your goals. While many adults seemed to treat high schoolers as barely in control of their own impulses (and indeed, we sometimes were!), Mrs. Day saw more. She saw our potential, and knew that our hopes and passions only wanted a word of confident encouragement to help us reach our dreams. In a twist of fate, I ended up marrying Sue’s only son, Justin; now I consider myself among the luckiest daughters-in-law in the world to have Sue so firmly planted in my life, and in the lives of my children. And while I knew Sue was dedicated to her work and the students at Joplin High School, I gained a deeper awareness of her impact when my own kids entered Joplin Schools; everywhere we go, the teachers and staff seek us out to pass along their kind words to Sue. “I just found out you’re Sue Day’s family! Please tell her I still think of her often and am so grateful for her help…” They carry on to describe a generous, helpful encounter with Sue that changed the course of their careers. From teachers, to principals, to counselors and district administrators – both in this district and all across Southwest Missouri – Sue has been a real-life mentor to us all. I’m blessed to call her my mother-in-law, honored to call her my friend, and proud to see the way she’s shaped hundreds of Joplin’s students into community members who trust in their worth as they begin to make their way in the world. She’d never ask for this award, and she’d never imagine that her work is anything other than “a regular day in the life.” But that’s exactly what makes her so special. As the kids these days say, she “woke up like this:” game face on, ready to help, eager to meet the next person through her door without judgment or preamble. A life-changer, indeed.

Morgan Cravens Posted over a year ago

Ms. Day is always such a joy to be around. She lights up any room with her sweet smile and gentle spirit. I know her to be extremely helpful, hard working, insightful, passionate about her work and so kind to everyone she meets! I know she goes above and beyond in anything she is asked to do, giving everything her all. Ms. Day knew I enjoyed writing and informed me about a competition for the Joplin Globe. It made me feel so special that she thought of me and how she believed in my ability to win along with her other students that submitted. She is valued and loved by so many people and very much deserves this award.

Mallory Cravens Posted over a year ago

Where do I even start? Ms. Day is one of the kindest, most compassionate, and sweetest people I have ever met. I honestly don't know where I would be without her help my Senior year of high school. She always made me feel like the most important person in the room, and I know for a fact that I am not the only one she made feel that way. Everyone I knew in high school loved Ms. Day, she was our go-to girl in the guidance office. But she is more than just a counselor, she is a friend, a mentor, a confidant. Ms. Day deserves this the Lifechanger, she changes lives every day by helping kids with one of the most important decisions they will make. I want to be as kind, as impactful, as loving, and a crazy hard worker as Ms. Day. She changed my life and I am so blessed that I have the privilege of knowing her. Thank you for everything, Ms. Day!

Kerry Cravens Posted over a year ago

Ms Day is an amazing lady. I feel so blessed to know her. She has a heart for the students at JHS and she is always looking for ways to help them. I love working with her and seeing her in action. She is always smiling and so kind. She is an inspiration to us all.??

Karisa Boyer Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Sue Day for 19 years and I have always observed her working hard for not only students but staff as well! Eagle Advantage (leadership/ club/ tutoring pay) is a well-organized machine because of Sue and as a teacher who sponsors a student organization as well as serves as a science leader, I appreciate this very much! More importantly, Sue works to organize and assist dual credit students and teachers of those classes. She helps those students track credits and as a result, some of our students have graduated with an Associates degree. She helps coordinate scholarship applications as well as many other tasks in the guidance department. Sue is such a caring lady and takes care of faculty and students. I love working with her!

Kylee VanHorn Posted over a year ago

Ms. Day is not only my colleague, but she was my counselor when I went to Joplin High School. As a student, she was so kind and willing to help me make sure to reach my goals. She helped me get into all of the classes I needed to succeed and graduate high school with honors. Now, as a teacher, almost 20 years later, she is still working just as hard to do the same thing for other students. She is definitely deserving of the Lifechanger of the Year Award. She has been changing and helping the lives of students for many years.

Shiree Dodson Posted over a year ago

Ms. Day has always been a smile or a kind word. Ms Day has always been a listener, a person who was on your side. Even though she is small, her personality is big. To know her is to love her. I am not surprised that she was nominated, but surprised at how long it took to be nominated. I don;t know if I know a kinder soul.

Shelly Tarter Posted over a year ago

I have worked with Sue for 12 years and she is amazing. She has been in charge of Eagle Advantage, tutoring, A+ Program and counseling students. Sue is irreplaceable.

Wendy McGrane Posted over a year ago

Sue Day is indeed a lifesaver, and an all-around wonderful person. Her deep interest in and care for students is evident in everything she does. I have known Sue for at least 10 years as my 3 children have worked their way through Joplin High School, as well as interacting with her through Site Council. Sue never hesitates to help students - and families - no matter the request. From navigating one of my daughters through dual credit opportunities in order to earn an associate degree upon high school graduation, to assisting my son with basic schedule-building, Sue brings expertise and professionalism to every situation. Students like and respect, and perhaps most importantly, trust Sue to provide guidance that supports their best interests and promotes personal success. I cannot think of another educator more worthy of this recognition than Sue Day. Her long and outstanding career is a testament to how she has changed lives through education.

Karensue Hensley Posted over a year ago

I have been blessed to know Sue since I came to work in Joplin in 1997. She has always been professional. She has a heart of gold for her students and as a mentor! I have also had the experience of working with her as a parent. She takes the time to get to know the students. She encourages them to do their best, to set goals, and works with them. She has developed many friendships over the years--beyond professionally--becaues she CARES! She truly defines what a school counselor shoudl do!

G.G. Mathis Posted over a year ago

Some counselors know their students' names. Sue Day knows her students, period! I have worked with her for more than 20 years in my financial clerical support role, primarily in the area of scholarship awards and management. Each year, I am floored by her determination to match kids to the scholarships for which they are best fitted, and her determination to follow up with each recipient to ensure those funds are claimed promptly and used wisely. I have read my other colleagues' comments posted here about Sue and can only add a very heartfelt "Yeah. Me, too!"

Lara Stamper Posted over a year ago

Sue Day and I go way back. She was my counselor in high school and I have had the pleasure of working in the same district as her these last 16 years. She also took care of my oldest daughter and helped her navigate dual credit classes, A+ program, and assisted in pushing her to apply for college scholarships and she graduated with thousands of dollars worth of them. She is such a kind, smart and encouraging person. My family is lucky that she is there watching out for us. She keeps all her students on track. She is a joy to be around. She is always there if you have questions even if you are not on her caseload. She pushes all of us to be better and work harder through her passion and hard work. I am so thankful for her and Joplin Schools is lucky to have had her for so long.

Nicole Hart Posted over a year ago

Sue was my counselor in high school 20 years ago. She made everything a breeze when it was time to sign up for classes. I can see how she would be such a help to students who needed it for college. I was lucky enough to have a mom as a teacher who helped me through that process, but Sue would've been my first stop if I needed the guidance for that step in my life. I am grateful for all that she did during my 4 years of high school.

Kaley Figueroa Posted over a year ago

I was a student at JHS and graduated in 2016. Sue Day was heaven sent into my life and I think often about how my life may have been different without her impact. I always knew I wanted to go to college and make something of myself, I wanted a better life. Growing up in poverty, college can sometimes seem so out of reach. Sue Day reached out to me in school and got me enrolled into the Dual Credit program. Because of her I was able to complete over 22 hours of college credit by the time I graduated high school. She did not stop at just that. She began reaching out to me and letting me know of many scholarships I could apply for or that were fitting to me. She helped me fill out endless applications! By the end of my senior year I had got awarded so many college scholarships I was able to attend college fully paid for with enough return money to afford my living expenses as well. I got to start college worry free. Fast forward to now and I am a Literacy teacher for Joplin schools and I am attending graduate school. I have always wanted to thank her and let her know what a difference she made in my life. I can only hope I may someday impact my students lives as much as you impacted mine.

Patricia Walker Kruse Posted over a year ago

It has been my honor to work with Sue Day starting back in 1983 when she joined the staff in Joplin Schools starting at North Middle School. From the time I met her she made an immediate impact both in Joplin Schools and with myself. She also spent time working at Franklin Technical School where she made major adjustments that assisted advancement of the Joplin Technical Program. Her next move was to the high school where I had the privilege to serve with her as her department chair. It was during this time she went from respected colleague to treasured friend and invaluable asset in developing our high school guidance program. She is an outstanding counselor and has a unique skill in raising the quality of every program in which she associates. I know I highly treasured our time working together and relying on her personal support and skills in building our department into a stellar operation. Sue brings so much knowledge, experience and understanding of DESE expectations, program building and quality relationships with everyone who is fortunate enough to work with her. When I retired from Joplin High School and went to work at a private college prep school, she again stepped up as my ally and did everything in her power to help support me as well as our school with resources that helped bridge education in the city of Joplin. I truly treasure my time and experiences with this amazing lady who is more than worthy to be this year’s recipient for the Life Changers Award.

Sandra Cantwell Posted over a year ago

For forty-eight years, Sue has been a beacon of light for many students who felt "lost at sea" and had no idea what the future might hold for them or even what options they had for life after high school. She has devoted her career to serving as an advocate for students, helping them achieve success in school and in life. Sue does not just show up at work and go through the motions; she goes the extra mile, sharing her wisdom and knowledge as she challenges students to reach for the stars and not sell themselves short. She has left a lasting imprint on lives. I am grateful for the opportunity I have had to work with Ms. Day.

Peggy Yen Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Day was not only vital to my high school academic success and beyond but also to my development during the very formative, adolescent years. Her office was a refuge from the high school ecosystem of stereotypical cliques. She built my confidence and made me feel like I was special and destined for more. A great educator teaches the subject matter proficiently but a truly exceptional one reaches beyond the explicit curriculum and relates the learnings to life so that young minds may grow up to become extraordinary human beings. I'll always be grateful for her influence in my life and the successes I've been lucky enough to experience are a testament to her life's work.

Paula Carson Posted over a year ago

As the Provost at Missouri Southern, working with Sue has been wonderful. She is immensely dedicated to providing opportunities for students and is a great advocate for continuing education. Sue is a tremendous partner. As a parent, Sue has already worked diligently with my freshman planning her high school career. She pays exquisite attention to detail, listens intently and provides sage and valuable recommendations. She is an amazing human and it is a privilege and honor to work with her.

Randy Steele Posted over a year ago

Sue, was very very instrumental in how life changed for 2 boys in high school. As I was on the School Board at the time. Sue had 2 young boys that are brothers that were being sent out of town cause they were being put in foster care. There was no openings around Joplin at the time. She was the key person that contacted the Division of Children's Services. To notify them about me . She was the push that had them move in with me and helped both my sons Kyle and Axle get what they needed. Sue is very very very deserving of this award.. Thank you Randy Steele

Ashley Trotnic Posted over a year ago

I first met Sue Day when she was my counselor in High School. For four years she helped me plan a path that would lead me to being her co-worker six years later. As my counselor she was a caring and loving figure in my life. She worked hard to make sure I had all opportunities possible that pertained to my goals. She was a big cheerleader of mine and that has continued on all these years later. I have had the wonderful privilege of working with Sue Day for the past eight years at Joplin High School. In that time she has shown the same sort of care in helping me with all I do in my classroom and extracurricular theatre program. I feel so lucky to have her as a co-worker and friend. I am so glad that my students are able to have her in their lives as she helps them get opportunities so they can follow their dreams.

Jessica Burroughs Posted over a year ago

I have had the privilege of working alongside Sue Day at Joplin High School for the past five years. She is not only a great mentor but has become a great friend. Sue is the definition of what a school counselor should be. She has the greatest work ethic I have ever seen. She is consistently there for students, teachers and parents. With Sue, no question ever goes unanswered and no one leaves her office without a plan or solution to their problem. She truly cares about her students and helps them reach their full potential. She sees the best in her students and pushes them to see the best in themselves. Her passion and abilities also extend outside of the high school walls. Sue remains in close contact with her students years later and becomes invested in their lives. The relationships she builds are truly something to be admired. Sue has given Joplin High School her best for 48 years. I am glad to have been given the privilege to be a part of her journey.

Joe Jasper Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Day is a wonderful person. She is not assigned as my school counselor, but she willingly took time out of her summer to meet with my parents and me regarding my plan for the final two years of my high school career and what things I need to make sure to keep in mind as I continue my college and career choice. She was prepared for our meeting upon our arrival, welcomed us with all of the questions we had, and answered them honestly even if it wasn't exactly what we wanted to hear. After my initial meeting with Mrs. Day, it was easy to see how much she cares for all students and wants to help them achieve their individual goals.

Kellie Bowman Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Day goes above and beyond to help each and every person that she can. As her co-worker, she has been a mentor to me answering many questions and helping me with many projects in the 15 years I have known her. Her knowledge and experience are invaluable to the counseling department. Mrs. Day is a legend here; I can't imagine Joplin High School without her.

Crystal Stokes Posted over a year ago

It is difficult to express the impact one person can have on both a school and community. However, if one could talk to the past 30+ years of Joplin High School students you would hear story after story of how she helped hundreds of students to find their path. Sue Day has taken on many of the highest need students and helped them to success both academically and socially. She has a giving heart and soul that many have benefited from over her many years at Joplin Schools. Without her guidance and passion I do not believe we would have so many students succeed in both our local colleges and Ivy League Universities. Sue Day is a known name in our community all because she puts student's social, emotional and academic success first. We are so blessed to have Ms. Day working with our students at Joplin High School.

Jason Cravens Posted over a year ago

Sue Day was a counselor at JHS when I first started teaching twenty years ago. From the start, it became evident that she was the queen of all things school counseling. I remember being so impressed with how she promoted students to be successful by connecting them to the right opportunities. She was an amazing resource for students, staff, and families at Joplin High School. In addition to this, she did it all with a Spartan-like work ethic and deep kindness. Now many years later as my own children are at JHS, Sue Day is still there. She is still performing the same amazing services of connecting students with opportunities, except now it is my own children she is helping. I've had two children graduate from JHS and have two currently attending. Sue Day was a great asset in bridging the transition to my two oldest students' transition into college and post-high school life. My kids and family love Sue Day! If there were a "School Counselor" hall-of-fame in this nation, Sue Day would have a place in it!

Vallie Cook Posted over a year ago

Sue Day and I have worked as colleagues and shared a friendship for forty years. Sue is the most respected woman I know by those who know her personally or professionally. Every act Sue takes is for the welfare of the student. It is not unusual to hear comments like " It has to be what is best for the student", or " we have to look at how to prepare the student." It is always about the student when talking with Sue Day. In the spring of 2020, Sue lost her best friend to a sudden death, I know it shook her world, but she was back at school within a day and when I approached her office to give condolences, she had students waiting and though we have a longstanding friendship, I waited- the students come first-Always. Sue handled her grief with dignity and love. In November, Sue lost her husband to a long battle with cancer. Though things happened so quickly, unexpectedly, Sue was back at school within two days and her comment to me was "The students need me, I need to be here for them." Sue was unconcerned with her own needs and put them aside for the students; she would grieve at home. The unselfish dedication and love Sue Day extols to education and her students is profound. It is unusual to find such hope and aspiration she finds for each student regardless of the circumstance. Sue makes everyone- parent, educator, student, community member feel valued and appreciated when in her presence. I believe Sue Day is the greatest resource our district has for its students' futures.

Stephen Gilbreth Posted over a year ago

Sue Day has spent her life making a difference in the lives of students' at Joplin High School. She is truly a kind lady who has a heart for kids and their futures. Sue is willing to help in any way that will benefit a teacher, administrator, parent, and especially students. Sue has such a vast knowledge of education and career planning. She is always thinking of ways to positively impact the people around her. Sue gives so much of her time, freely to students and teachers. She works hours making sure the programs she oversees will benefit students in every possible way. Sue works through the summer making students have everything they need to start the year and not lose out on any opportunity. Sue has a heart of gold and she touches so many lives in so many ways. The long-reaching effects that Sue Day had in the lives of those she has served could not possibly be measure. She has made the high school and college experience work for so many students over the years and she has enriched so many lives that generations of families will experience the benefits of what she has accomplished. Sue Day will always come to mind when I reflect on the impact teachers and educators make in the lives of the families they touch. She truly is a difference-maker. Her lasting impact will be felt for years. Her legacy will be one of a servant spirit who has left a positive mark on countless lives.

Julia Narrell Posted over a year ago

Oh my goodness!! Sue Day is a beacon of light for all school counselors in the Joplin School District as we can can easily approach her with any question in regards to school counseling and DESE and she always has an answer. Her mind has got to be a literal encyclopedia of knowledge because she really does know ALL! Sue is kind, she gives each person in her presence undivided attention, she seems to innately know how to handle conflict and de escalate students and adults and this is just the tip of the iceberg to all the skills and goodness she possesses. I feel confident in saying her loyalty and dedication to Joplin Schools can not be matched by any other person and I love that she continues to bless us all with her presence!

Aaron Brown Posted over a year ago

Ms. Day is one of the kindest and most genuine people you could find. I have had the opportunity to see first hand, both as a student and a co worker, how much Ms. Day cares for everyone she encounters at JHS. Her willingness to go above and beyond for anyone is truly humbling. Ms Day's impact on the people she encounters through her work is hard to put into words and can not be understated.

Tim N Oster Posted over a year ago

It has been my pleasure to have been able to work with Mrs Day for several years. From these interactions, I have always found that Mrs Day to be a person who is helpful, encouraging, and very willing to clearly share her experience and expertise. Mrs Day is a wonderful co-worker to all.

Gregboyd Posted over a year ago

I have personally witnessed during these past twenty-years, Ms. Day's commitment to helping our students obtain some of the most prestigious scholarships in the Country. She is a professional educator and advocate who cares deeply about her student's well-being and successes even beyond high school. She is continuously assisting students, parents, and her colleagues with their needs placed above hers. She has dedicated her life to improving and developing opportunities for her students.

Jim Kimbrough Posted over a year ago

Sue Day and I have been collegues for 35 years and I can honestly say she is the epitome of an awesome high school counselor and human being!!

Susan L. Primm Posted over a year ago

Mrs. Day is the most informed and compassionate educator I have ever known. I am honored to have called her my friend and colleague for so many years. She is irreplaceable.

Jennifer Morgan Posted over a year ago

Sue Day is one of the hardest working people I have ever met. She always is personable and makes sure the job she is doing is done right. She goes above and beyond to encourage students in their education in high school and working with them on post-secondary plans as well. She works wonderfully with all staff members and the administrative team. She is a kind and loving person who has devoted her life to family and career in education.

Seth Wolfshorndl Posted over a year ago

Sue Day has had a powerful influence in students' lives, especially in helping them navigate different college options and dual-credit offerings. She has always been available to them as a caring voice of reason as they make major plans for their future!

Edie Pringle Posted over a year ago

I have had the privilege to work with Sue for many years. She has been an outstanding asset to our high school as she goes far beyond the call of duty for our students. Her priority is and has always been the students. Not to mention she is a wonderful person to have as a coworker.

Christopher Young Posted over a year ago

I have had the pleasure of working alongside Ms. Day for the last 14 years. Ms. Day has no limitations when it comes to helping students with their academic plans and future aspirations. Ms. Day works diligently to ensure that students are meeting the A+ program GPA and mentoring requirements, which helps eligible students receive scholarships for post-secondary education. She is a great asset for Joplin High School, because of her wealth of knowledge, compassion, and supportive relationships with students and colleagues. Ms. Day is certainly deserving of this nomination and award.

KELLY PYLE-TAUTE Posted over a year ago

Ms. Day is absolutely the best! Her love for students is evident in her work ethic. She goes above and beyond in her job making sure her student needs are met.

Heather Coble Posted over a year ago

Students LOVE Mrs. Day. She makes time for all students and makes their needs her priority. They feel comfortable talking with her and she makes them feel important.

Steve Reed Posted over a year ago

I can echo many of the sentiments that I read in Sue's nomination letter. I've known Sue for the 32 years I have been with the Joplin District. She spent a few years working in my building at the Career & Technical Center providing guidance and a lot of caring for students from all over Southwest Missouri. She made a point to know every student that came through our doors and went the extra mail to encourage and motivate each student to succeed. I remember a few times when she helped provided transportation to take students to and from job-shadowing sites. She spent many hours after the school day serving on Advisory committees to help build strong programs and classes at the tech center. Always performed her duties with pride and honor, in my humble opinion, this award could not go to a more deserving individual. The innovations and developments she has helped bring about in the guidance and counseling programs in Joplin Schools has been outstanding. Respectfully Steve Reed

Jeff Hafer Posted over a year ago

Sue is an instrumental part of the success of so many of our students. Her years of commitment, compassion and persistence have offered students opportunities they would have never realized on their own. As a colleague, Sue goes above and beyond to assist everyone to make sure they can succeed in reaching and helping our students. Sue's selfless actions and love for kids has been an inspiration for students and faculty alike. Sue makes everyone around her better. Sue Day is a Life Changer every single day for our students.

Lacey Santillan Posted over a year ago

Sue Day is an amazing woman that does tremendous things for our school (Joplin High School). She has served in our district for many years and has changed the lives of so many students that have attended JHS. Her work and generosity has allowed many students to get scholarships and attend secondary schools after they leave here. She deserves this award for all that she has done and continues to do! You rock Sue!!

Kelsea Whitten Posted over a year ago

Ms. Day is always trying to give students the best chance to success. I have seen her work tirelessly with the A+ program as well as coming around and inquiring about students daily. She is a huge asset to not only Joplin High School but our entire community!