LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Lainee Graham

Position: Elementary School Counselor
School: Mize Elementary School
School District: Unified School District 232
City, State: Shawnee, KS

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Lainee Graham was nominated by an anonymous colleague.

"Lainee Graham is the heart and soul of Mize Elementary School," explains her colleague. "She provides our students with a supportive, listening ear and strategies to overcome emotional obstacles and does the same with our staff. If life is overwhelming, Lainee is the calm in the storm, regardless of your job title, age, or responsibilities."

Ms. Graham started her school's student leadership team three years ago, composed of third, fourth, and fifth graders. These students plan service projects for the school and implement ways for the school to make a positive impact on our community. Students will go the extra mile to be a part of this team because of the time they get to spend with Ms. Graham. Everyone knows you feel better when she's in the room.

"Ms. Graham has done an exceptional job implementing our social-emotional literacy curriculum with our students," said the nominator. "We have more students that are independently regulating their emotions. She's also helped to empower our classroom teachers with strategies to help build time in their schedules for weekly lessons."

Two years ago, two families in the district experienced house fires within a week or two of each other. As soon as Ms. Graham got the news, she left school immediately to purchase essential items for these families and delivered them personally. She sat down with the families to find out what else they needed, whether it be housing, food, or community resources. Ms. Graham ensured both families knew she would walk with them throughout this uncertain time. These acts were above and beyond anything that was asked of Ms. Graham. She simply followed her heart.