LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Arika Winborne

Position: Choir / Music Director
School: Russell Hawkins Junior High School
School District: Jackson R-2 School District
City, State: Jackson, MO

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Music that Describes Arika

Arika Winborne was nominated by her colleague, Cynthia Burger.

"When I think about the word 'LifeChanger,' several words come to my mind: difference maker, compassionate, love of others over themselves, kind, sincere, motivator and friend. These are just a few words describing Arika," said Burger.

Mrs. Winborne began her career as a School Choir Director/Teacher in 2003. She has been teaching at Jackson R-2 for approximately 18 years. Not only does she work with the school choir, but she is also involved with her church music and youth ministry. Mrs. Winborne has played the piano and travels with her husband, a minister, to help with the services. Mrs. Winborne has also been a "sponsor" for several students who have gone through Confirmation classes at her church. This year, she is sponsoring a student even though she no longer attends that church. She does it because she genuinely cares about helping others in any way she can.

Mrs. Winborne is a mother of three, with the oldest being a senior in high school and the youngest a second-grader in elementary school. She is a Cheerleading coach for the high school, as well. Mrs. Winborne juggles many things with these positions, but always has a smile and never complains. According to her husband, Tim, "She truly is a jewel. Arika gives herself to her students, friends, and family without hesitation. She has and does accomplish many things without ever getting recognition for it. She deserves many jewels in her crown".  

One of the most important things that makes Mrs. Winborne a LifeChanger is her generosity and compassion for her students. Many students within her school consider her their "school mom." When she sees an upset student, she takes the initiative to speak to them and tries to help in any way she can. Several students use her the way they would use school counselors. She keeps a book of tardy passes by her computer because, undoubtedly, one of her students will stay after class because they need to talk about something bothering them. She is not hesitant about reaching out to kids in the hallway to try to get them to join the choir because she sees something in them that she feels music would be a good fit for them.  

"There is one student I can think of whom she has taken under her wing and helped deal with anxiety issues," said Burger. "She does not have this student in her choir class but is familiar with her from another class. She has spent time getting to know this particular student and helping her through some issues. This student spends time in my office when she needs a break. She mentioned that Mrs. Winborne has helped her by allowing her to talk about things that bother her and being kind to her."

"Occasionally, Mrs. Winborne will walk by my office at the other end of the building and stop in just to say, 'You are amazing,'" said Burger. "She has this way of knowing what needs to be said at just the right time. She never hesitates to ask me if I am doing okay when she sees me in the hallway. I have witnessed her do this with all of our faculty. She has that friendly face and amazing smile that shows you can trust her with anything."

"These are just a few examples that make Arika Winborne a LifeChanger," said Burger. "She truly is a LifeChanger to many people. Craig Morgan sings a song called 'Ordinary Angels.' The words in this song describe Arika Winborne. She truly is an Ordinary Angel to anyone who has the pleasure of knowing her."

Comments (20)

Tasha Hess Posted 1 months ago

Congratulations and good luck on this very deserving award!

Jaclyn Thiele Posted 2 months ago

Ms.Winborne has truly be an inspiration to my son. This is our first year at JJHS and she is one of those teachers my son talks about often. She took a teen who loved music and molded that passion into singing… my son worked hard to ensure he had a place in advance choir with her and her colleague Mr.Treat. Just from my experience with my own child; I can see her passion, enthusiasm, and nurturing nature to go above and beyond for her students. “Life changer” would be a pretty accurate title to describe her! Best of luck this is truly deserved!

Izobel Hager Posted 2 months ago

Mrs.Winborne has truly made my first year of JJHS! I didn’t want to be in choir this year but my mom just said to try it and I’m glad I did. Mrs. Winborne is my favorite teacher and I’m going to miss her so much when I have to leave her to go to ninth grade. She makes choir so much fun and she has a funny and loving personality and I’m so so grateful that she is my choir teacher!

Trina Hindman Posted 2 months ago

My daughter has truly enjoyed having Mrs. Winborne these last two years. Her good attitude, compassion, and warmth shine through inside and outside the classroom. She finds a way to pick the teens up, motivate them, and help them develop a love for different musical genres. I highly recommend Mrs. Arika Winborne for this award!

Andrea Shipley Posted 2 months ago

Congratulations on your nomination. I know Micaela loved her time with you.

Stephanie Myers Posted 3 months ago

I have heard it said many times that a truly great teacher teaches students, not a subject. Of all the things I could say about Arika, this is probably the most essential description of her work as a teacher. I saw this trait emerging when she was a student teacher in my classroom many years ago and had the privilege of watching it blossom and grow as we shared a classroom for many years. Arika has a gift for finding students in need of compassion, love, and family and then she offers them those things in her classroom. Her classes and choirs provide safety, security, and home for so many kids who are searching. Though her priority is to reach students, she also does an incredible job of helping students to become accomplished musicians through singing in her choirs. She sets the standard high and then leads her singers to that standard with hard work and joy. I'm proud to call her my friend and colleague.

Jami Kendle Posted 3 months ago

Both of my kiddos have been blessed to have Arika as a teacher. It is evident that she teaches with her whole heart!!

Jordan Cox Posted 3 months ago

Arika Winborne is without a doubt the very definition of a life changer! Arika has been a life changer for me for 22 years. As a high school student she was a piano/voice teacher to me. When Arika believes in you, you feel like you can do anything. I distinctly remember accompanying a choir (one of my first times) and she was turning my pages. I got so lost (and she didn’t know where we were in the music either, haha), but she’s the kind of presence that makes you better. Afterward she gave me words of encouragement that still linger with me today. As a first year teacher I had the privilege of teaching alongside her. We once had a girls choir of 80 and she made everyone one those girls feel seen and heard. I saw kids make good decisions when they normally would not have, I saw loneliness disappear, I saw timid and shy kids come to life, I saw squirrely, goofy boys act professional, I saw light in the darkest of spaces. Now as a college professor, I wish every one of students could observe her teaching. She is one of a kind and my life is among the thousands that is immensely better because her.

Char Avrunin Posted 3 months ago

Blessings and good luck. Arika??

Pam Lucy Posted 3 months ago

We observed our daughter, Arika, as a junior high student with a passion to become a choral music teacher. She knew from that point in her young life what and who she wanted to be in this world; to make a difference in others lives through a teaching career in music; and she never wavered from that decision. She goes above and beyond for her students and others. I don't know how many times that a parent/grandparent has approached me in public to tell me what a diffence Arika had made in their child/grandchildren's lives, as a teacher and as someone who lends a listening ear and loving heart to anyone who needs it. These same students come back years later to let her know how she changed their lives during those crucial teenage years. It makes her dad and me SO proud. I love to attend the concerts she conducts, to watch her feel the music she's directing, to see the loving respect of her students, and the parents who flood around her at the stage afterwards to give her their appreciation. It's no wonder I tear up at these events, watching our daughter receive the thanks of those whose lives have definitely been changed through her. What a blessing she is to SO many!

Maci McGill Posted 3 months ago

As a cheerleader on Arika’s team, I can definitely say she is one of the most understanding people I know. Not only have I gotten the privilege of having her as my coach, but I have also had the honor of having her as a teacher as well. She cares so deeply for others, and will do anything for anyone. She is always there if we need to talk, and she reminds us of that constantly. She is so quick to lighten up any situation, and never fails to make me laugh. We are so thankful for her!

Megan Oldson Posted 3 months ago

Arika has always been a bright light and a helpful hand for students, colleagues, and anyone around. I have heard countless people tell me what an amazing person, teacher, mentor, and all-around human she is. I know she is someone I strive to be like in the workplace and hope to one day come close. She is always smiling or has a joke to alleviate a situation for us all. I can't imagine a more deserving person. Jackson Junior High School would not be the same without her and I don't know what we will do when she retires and leaves us one day. Thank you for all you have done for us, Arika!

Tracey Cox Posted 4 months ago

Mrs. Winborne is a kind, caring and compassionate teacher and the students and staff think very highly of her. She brings out the best in her students whether it is choir or even study hall. She has wonderful creative ideas to help the students learn and succeed. She is always there for anyone that needs her. She also has an enthusiastic personality and you can tell she loves what she does.

Jana Scott Posted 4 months ago

Arika is one of a kind. She is one of the most talented, compassionate, genuine people that I have ever known. When she does something, she puts her heart and soul into it. I have known Arika for 15 plus years and we have done life together. We have been through many ups and downs together and she is someone that I know will be there for me no matter what. She has that same presence with her students and gives them her all. Any child who is lucky enough to have her as a teacher, is truly blessed. She is the 'calm in the storm' many times for me and is so good a working through problems. She is quick witted and so funny. I love Arika Winborne with my whole heart and I am lucky to have her as a co-worker and a friend.

Rianna Jones Posted 4 months ago

Arika is someone who is truly amazing. From the first moment of meeting her, she makes you feel welcomed. She is someone that if you need anything, she is always there not only for her coworkers but for her students. She makes sure that everyone in her life is loved, and knows that they are. She always has a smile on her face, even when presented with a problem and says "don't stress, we'll figure it out". For the cheerleaders, she is someone that they can go to for advice no matter what the problem. They truly look at her as more than a coach or teacher. I would say they look at her as family. Arika is someone that deserves a lot in life, she is the definition of a "life changer"

Tosha Borgfield Posted 4 months ago

Arika is truly amazing. We both have children the same age so I have known her for over 10 years. I also coach the high school dance team and since we both have members who are on both teams (dance and cheer) we have to work together on scheduling. It is easy to communicate with Arika and she is always willing to work around conflicts we may have. She is full of zest and is compassionate and kind as well. Moreover, she is extremely witty and intelligent. She has high expectations for her cheerleaders and the girls have a tremendous amount of respect for her. If Arika signs up for a task she is going to give 100%. She is truly a great example to all. I am blessed to be able to call her my friend.

Sara Pylate Posted 4 months ago

Ms. Winborne doesn't just teach choir. She creates a family of teens uniting their voices in song, learning musical theory and life lessons in equal measure, all while supporting each other. Under her leadership, a mixture of 60 (or more) different personalities, skill levels, and backgrounds experience the glorious success of combining humor and hard work. Life Changer is a perfect phrase for her.

Meg Daniels Posted 4 months ago

Arika is by far the most magical teacher at JJHS. She has a knack for encouraging students to try and aim to be better humans. The students sure love being in her class. She has pushed them to perform much higher than their grade level expectations. She makes learning so much fun and rigorous for these students! I have no idea how she can manage to direct these amazing choirs, be a varsity cheerleading coach, and be a mom all at the same time. She is absolutely amazing at everything she does, when I grow up I want to be just like Arika (sans the singing, I'll leave that up to her).

Autumn Stevens Posted 4 months ago

Arika Winborne has the ability to make each and every person she encounters feel worthy and seen. She has a gift and uses it to its fullest potential. I coached cheerleading alongside her for a total of 6 years and she is someone who always goes the extra mile for her athletes. Whether it's paying a heartfelt compliment, lending a listening ear, or calling them out when they are short-changing themselves, her passion for helping others change even their own mediocre views o fthemeselves is astounding. She is definitely someone deserving of this honor.

Bess Posted 4 months ago

Arika goes above and beyond in the classroom setting. Not only does she prepare students in her curricular area, but she also provides support that helps them achieve success throughout their school day. She promotes healthy communication and relationships with peers and staff. She takes the time to consult with special education teachers to learn different strategies and ways to support all learners, then implements these strategies with great success. She provides consistency to our students and is a daily model for showing respect to students and staff. Our students adore her and it's a privilege to work alongside her!