LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Kristen Meeker

Position: K-12 School Counselor and Math Teacher
School: Tanner High School
School District: Limestone County School District
City, State: Athens, AL

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Music that Describes Kristen

Kristen Meeker was nominated by an anonymous family member.          

Mrs. Meeker has been an educator and military spouse for 25 years. From 1996 to 2022, she has made significant and lasting contributions to the education and welfare of students at schools in Germany, South Korea, Japan, and the United States. Her passion for student well-being & success is evident in everything she does, and it began with her very first job out of college.

"In 1996, Kristen began her work as a Department of Defense (DoD) Schools math teacher at Wurzburg Middle School in Germany," said her family member. "She taught Math 7, Math 8, and Music, while volunteering to take classes on the new 'Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)' program. AVID focused on students who had college potential but were at risk due to lax study habits, home issues, social challenges, or even language barriers."

This training would prove pivotal in her next job at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. Mrs. Meeker also volunteered to coach Wurzburg's Mathcounts team, which competed with other DoD schools in the United States and worldwide. Her coaching led the team to the state level in their first year, where they placed third overall.

In 2002, Mrs. Meeker transitioned to a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) math teacher position at Fort Bragg's Albritton Middle School. During this time, she took a personal interest in the unique challenges facing military students when soldiers deployed in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, leaving many homes to be managed by a single parent overnight.

"Despite her teaching workload, she volunteered for a position as an Army Family Action Plan (AFAP) coordinator, helping families with deploying soldiers establish educational and emotional paths to success for their children," explains her family member.

Mrs. Meeker also brought her AVID skills to Albritton Middle School, where she garnered the principal's approval to establish an AVID program from scratch. A year later, AVID was up and running, and her hard work earned Albritton an "AVID Certification with Distinction" six months after that. Under her direction, the program went on to help Albritton students build superior study skills and establish their college aspirations early in their academic careers. The AVID program complemented Mrs. Meeker's work as the Renaissance Program Co-chair, where she could recognize those students for their new-found academic success. Finally, she used her math skills as part of the School Improvement Committee, building quantifiable statistical models to improve test scores, attendance, and disciplinary referrals.

After building a great learning environment for students at Albritton, Mrs. Meeker paused to earn her Master's degree in counseling. However, this didn't keep her from volunteering for the Red Cross in 2009 during her husband's deployment. She earned her degree in 2010 (Summa Cum Laude), and in 2011, she put these skills to work in support of students and families at Camp Zama Japan, where she returned to DoD as a middle school counselor. Here, she pioneered the use of Student-Led Conferences (SLCs), which put students in charge of their own learning in a holistic sense. The students made action plans, set improvement goals, and explained their efforts quarterly to key stakeholders (parents and teachers). Her program was so successful that it was adopted across Zama Middle School, and parent attendance shot up 250% versus the more traditional parent-teacher conference methodology.

Mrs. Meeker further broadened her ability to support the military community by volunteering for Red Cross classes on improving mental health for students, families, and Soldiers. Towards the end of her time at Zama Middle School, the sudden departure of an employee meant that Mrs. Meeker found herself working as the acting assistant principal. However, it was only for a few months before she departed Japan to move to South Korea in support of her husband's military career.

In 2015, she accepted a position at the DoDEA Seoul American Elementary School. She provided counseling support to children of Army/Navy/Air Force personnel and South Korean children attending SAES. Though this was her first time working with elementary students, she used her past skills to improve the school's Sure Start program, develop a data-driven counseling program, and implement a school-wide incentive program. Mrs. Meeker's most significant success came from creating a new "Parent University Program" where parents and teachers collaborated to design curricula aligned with student needs as determined by data analysis.

Mrs. Meeker exited DoDEA's school system in 2017, accepting a position as an International School Counselor at Bonn International School (BIS), Germany, where she provided counseling to students from over 70 countries, as well as a small population of U.S. Embassy and U.S. Army dependent children. Never content with the status quo, she successfully advocated for an increase in secondary school counseling support (upping the counseling staff by two) and established a Student support team to address students struggling with cultural and language challenges. She pioneered Student-Led Conferences at Bonn as she had in Japan, and she assisted the BIS leadership team in implementing SLCs across all grades. 

When COVID took hold, she built a Distance Learning Initiative to support students learning from home. She supported their well-being through individual/group counseling, staff/parent consults, and referrals for additional support. Her volunteer efforts didn't slow either: from 2017 to her departure from Bonn in 2020, she was part of the Secondary Leadership Team, Whole School Support Team, Subject Leaders Committee, Child Protection Committee, and Crisis Management Team. She also served as a Running Club Coach, Ski and Field Trip Counselor, and sponsor for the BIS Ambassador Program. Furthermore, she maintained her Red Cross volunteer credentials, using them to provide counseling services to students and families of U.S. Soldiers at multiple locations across Germany.

In 2020, she was hired at Benjamin Davis Elementary Magnet School in Decatur, Alabama. After working there for nearly two years, she transitioned to Tanner High School, just west of Huntsville, Alabama. At Tanner, Mrs. Meeker found a team of education professionals that shared her love of student success in the face of overwhelming odds; many of the students at Tanner came from disadvantaged or broken homes, and at this Tier 1 school, she found her calling. She continues at Tanner High School today, motivated by her passion for helping students succeed. To put it in her own words:

"I am an educator because I want to inspire others to achieve. I believe that students can accomplish anything through determination and motivation, but the skills educators provide help those students overcome the challenges while learning how to approach challenging life problems as well. This is what I find truly rewarding, especially when I see a student succeed at a planned, determined effort to achieve a goal."

Comments (17)

Costea Posted 8 months ago

What can I say about Mrs. Meeker that hasn’t been said already? She’s a kind, compassionate, and loving person who always treated everyone with a joke and a smile in or outside of school. I didn’t know her as a counselor but rather as the mother of my best friend in high-school and no matter what mischief we would get into, she had a subtle way of reminding us of our true worth. That especially became prevalent during what I would describe as the most stressful part of my 21 year existence… the IB final exams. I remember Mr. Meeker being in everyone’s corner, no matter where they came from, if they were confident or nervous, if they were deemed as the IB wizard or if they were someone like me who was a hair-lengths away from losing their marbles panicking in the bathroom stalls. Mr. Meeker encouraged everyone to do their best and let them know it’ll all be alright. That was her superpower. Personally I’m still very thankful for the many times I was invited over for dinner and treated like family by her and her family. That’s the unique thing about all of the Meekers, they’re the best people you’ll ever meet.

Matthew Meeker (son) Posted 8 months ago

My mother is a wonderful parent and just as wonderful an educator. She cares about all her students and works hard to make a difference. She devotes hours after school to making schedules and programs to help students succeed. One example of this is the student led conferences she helped set up when she was a counselor in Japan. She also helped with the AVID (advanced via individual determination) program and worked closely with the teacher to ensure student success. She has always been a wonderful and caring mother, and has pushed me desire success and greatness. I love you mom! Matt

Kathryn Jackson Posted 8 months ago

Kristen Meeker was my very first best friend in life. She has always been a good counselor to me, always open, kind, honest, and willing to cheer me on to success in whatever I have wanted to do, even if it seemed crazy to her. She's reminded me of my worth and talents in times when I felt like I had nothing to offer. She's championed me as a valuable piece of a big picture puzzle, encouraging me to be my personal best because what I do matters and makes a difference. Setting an example of empathy, respect, and consideration of others characterize her behavior as they are some of her normal, automatic responses in life. She truly cares for others and loves the individual in front of her so well. She listens. She views others as possessing a unique contribution to the betterment of the situation. If you need someone to believe in you, look no farther than her because she wants what is the very best for you. I promise. She's selfless. She has been an advocate and catalyst for positive change more times than I can count. Kristen can dole out hope better than my grandma could heap huge helpings of her famous chicken spaghetti onto your plate. She's no doubt, made me a better person. I've provided ample opportunities over the past 48 years of our friendship for her to respond unkind to me or snap at me out of frustration, yet she has remained steadfast in offering me grace and responded with understanding, and even love! Who can say that of their big sister? Not many. Kristen, I love you! You are amazing! You inspire me to live fully, to keep going, to not give up. You are there for me when I don't make sense, even when I'm wrong or have made a mess of things; you stick around and help me clean up. You are one of my most favorite gifts in this life. You will always be my first and best friend. I love you! Love, Kath

Dwayne Burns Posted 8 months ago

Wow, this is exactly what describes Kristen. She is one of those people that make everyone around her have a better day, simply because she is around. She has a passion for helping others. Many people say this but do not produce the works. She is the real deal. Congratulations.

Heidi Moses Posted 8 months ago

LifeChanger? Yes!!! I met Kristen while she was enrolled in her Masters of School Counseling program. She gives new meaning to the 'do no harm' admonition given to those in the helping professions. Kristen's empathy and listening skills were off the charts, and the word that comes most to mind when thinking about her is 'genuine.' It's no wonder students love her. She is a safe human being. A kind and also discerning human being. Wise. Just a beautiful hardworking soul, and so deserving of this award.

Diana Meredith Posted 8 months ago

I had the privilege of being one of Mrs. Meeker's students in Germany in 1999. She was my math teacher and took me under her wing in many ways. I always felt comfortable going to talk with her when I needed a listening ear. She is truly one of the kindest people I've ever known, and very deserving of recognition for all that she does!

Erin Gray Posted 8 months ago

I have only been working with Meeker for a short time. I am a counselor at Clements High School just to the East of Tanner High. We are in the same school district with 6 high schools. I had absolutely no idea all the amazing things she has accomplished until very recently. She is humble to say the least. First meeting her she is quiet and reserved but she is eager to get in and help wherever needed. She and her other counselor at Tanner are making way for students that need guidance. She’s working at a Title 1 school with students to help them break the cycle by giving them options for career and education. Her students come from various backgrounds, some are considered homeless while others live in conditions none of us can even imagine. Even though I’ve only known her for about a year, I’m looking forward to learning more about her and from her and how we can work together for the students we serve in Limestone County!

Kathryn Lyons Posted 8 months ago

Best co-counselor and partner!!!

Jennifer Little Posted 8 months ago

We love you Mrs. Meeker.

Adriene Mitchell Posted 8 months ago

You inspire so many of these dusty kids!

dewi jonkers Posted 11 months ago

Kristen has always been there for me, i was best friends with their middle child and always when i was at their house i had a warm welcome and she always made sure i felt comfortable. this sounds like a very small thing but it’s one of the most comforting things i have experienced when meeting someone knew. she always knew how to help when school became difficult and was always fun to talk to. she has made my life at BIS more enjoyable and my life outside of school was just as fun. always making sure there were fruity pebbles for me eat! just these small gestures and small efforts make such a difference and it’s something i appreciate so much! SHES THE BEST!!

Will Tragert Posted 11 months ago

I am not familiar with the life changer of the year prior to hearing that Kristen Meeker was being considered for that recognition. That said, judging by the name alone, I can say unequivocally that this is a recognition made for Kristen! I have been fortunate over my 13 years in education to work with many talented individuals, I have worked in schools across three different countries and have experience with many different types of educators. Kristen is head and shoulders above just about everyone I’ve worked with! She is a dynamic counselor, a compassionate educator, and someone who truly changes the lives of all those who she works with!

Danyal Jillani Posted 11 months ago

During my time in Bonn International school, Mrs. Meeker was an amazing counsellor, teacher and friend. During a time when I was new to the country and having family problems, she really helped me and went above and beyond to support me. She let me sit in her office during breaks, lunches, even lessons, and was an extremely compassionate person who always wanted the best for others. There was never a time that I even noticed any impatience, and no matter what was said I was always treated with kindness by her. At a point, I was having major problems with a parent, and Mrs. Meeker took the extra step to organise a meeting with the parent and have a discussion with the both of us, helping us to mend our relationship to the best of her ability. Furthermore, during Covid and online school, when almost all lessons were cancelled, she still made the extra effort to organise Zoom calls with me to see how I was doing. Her compassion, friendliness and kindness exceeds most people I have met and she has forever helped me to morph into a more emotionally level-headed and positive person. She, as well as her family as a whole, treated me with so much kindness, and meeting such an amazing soul who radiates such positive energy is so rare, and such a life-changing thing to come across. Thank you Mrs Meeker, I've been meaning to contact you about how I'm doing at some point but never truly got around to it. You've made an amazing impact of my life.

Robin Skeen Posted 11 months ago

Mrs. Meeker has helped me with so much and is an amazing teacher and person. She supports everyone she meets and respects everyone. She is a truly extraordinary person and she deserves the entire world.

kidd (kristen’s daughter) Posted 11 months ago

my mom is the most generous person i know. not only is she kind with her words and thoughtful in her actions, but she truly tries her best to help everyone succeed to the best of their ability. she is the perfect combination of empathetic and effective, and helping those around her is a daily routine. she enthusiastically helps my friends with college applications and is always willing to answer questions. she does her best to include and understand everyone, and believes everyone is equal regardless of race, religion, sexuality, or gender. when we have conversations about equality and social issues, she LISTENS and supports those who need to be heard. though i can’t give details about her counseling life (my mom strictly follows patient confidentiality, another great quality!), i can share her endless love as a mother. she’s always been there to support me, and is my #1 fan. through my toughest days and loneliest nights, she’s stood by my side and held my hand so i wasn’t alone. she’s my wonder woman, and i cannot say this enough, but she has truly changed my life, and many others.

Beatrice Jack-Mckinney Posted 11 months ago

Mrs. Meeker is an excellent teacher. She was my sons teacher at Fort Bragg and she was an amazing teacher and loved her students. She took the time to make sure her students understand what they were learning. I truly appreciate her and my son always says that she give him the love of education. Thank you so much for all you do Mrs.Meeker

Jennifer Walker Posted 11 months ago

Mrs. Meeker made such a difference to our family when our children attended Bonn International School. She advocated for my child who has a learning disability and made sure they were treated with respect. She helped him through a period of depression which was a great help to him and our family. Mrs. Meeker touched so many families. She instituted an adult English learning program led by peer educators. This helped parents improve their English skills, improve their ability to communicate with their children’s teachers and for many different people in the BIS community to meet and support one another. Mrs. Meeker truly makes a difference and changes lives wherever she goes. She does it with a smile and with great caring. She certainly has been a Life Changer for our family and is deserving of this honor.