LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Dawn Gasper

Position: School Counselor
School: Little Miami Elementary School
School District: Little Miami Schools
City, State: Morrow, OH

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Music that Describes Dawn

Dawn Gasper was nominated by her principal, Alison Gates.

"Small and mighty, the honey bee will travel an average of 36,000 miles in its lifetime. The entire species contributes more than 200 billion dollars in ecological services as pollinators to the planet's food system. At Little Miami Elementary School, we have our own species of honey bee called School Counselor extraordinaire Dawn Gasper," said Gates.

You may see her if you look very closely as she flies by from meeting with one of the community resource groups brought in to benefit students, or as she is on her way to meet with a family in need of support through a difficult season of life. You can sneak up and spot her on a Saturday morning working with a Boy Scout on his Eagle project or pruning the flowers in the sensory garden she maintains year-round as a benefit for kids who use nature as a regulation tool. Ms. Gasper may buzz by in her most significant role in her LMES hive as the positivity pollinator. Her positivity is contagious as she moves from classroom to classroom and student to student.

"Whether it is a smile, an affirmation of, 'you've got this,' or a snuggle from her worker bee (okay, we know he is really a dog), the mood instantly shifts," said Gates. "There is no doubt about it: our hive of staff and students has been changed by Mrs. Gasper's community presence, positivity, and support of students, families, and staff."

In cultures worldwide, bees are the ultimate symbol of harmony, community, and working together. Throughout her career as a School Counselor, Mrs. Gasper has fostered countless relationships with community members, businesses, and agencies that benefit the students and staff at Little Miami Elementary School daily. One example is a local business called Greenfield Plant Farm and its ownership. Through carefully cultivated professional relationship building, Mrs. Gasper has opened doors for students to have job shadowing experiences, school buildings to receive product and labor donations, and the district to have a community business partnership.

Another example of how students have benefited from her skills has been from outside therapy agencies coming in to provide services, such as Fernside Grieving, Cancer Family Care, and Brush of Hope. As the most senior School Counselor, Mrs. Gasper works with the other elementary counselors to improve the "master hive" of their district through consistency between building transitions and access to support for all students.

"The variety and richness of Mrs. Gasper's relationships have strengthened the members of our hive through access to community resources and adult mentors," said Gates. "In a hive, bees will take turns being supported in the middle of a warming circle when conditions warrant it. Over the years, many have witnessed Mrs. Gasper pull together a warming circle in our hive to support a family, student, or staff member in need. She never shies away from an opportunity to comfort someone in a way that feels like the whole hive is behind them without it being intrusive or embarrassing."

In a magic way only the best, most experienced School Counselor can, Mrs. Gasper will put her arm around you without exchanging a word and make it feel like the world will be alright again. Time and time again, the same testimony has been given by students and families over the years; Mrs. Gasper is always there when we need her. She has become like the actor Kevin Bacon in her town; it would take anyone less than five contacts to track down her cell phone number since she gives it out to all of her parents, grandparents, and anyone else who asks for it!

A few weeks ago, she was in Savannah, Georgia, for her niece's wedding. The entire time, she was texting with a student's parent because he needed comfort while his wife was going through cancer treatment. When she got back into town, she gathered "the hive" to determine if they needed to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for the family or help with Christmas. She never hesitated to pull the family into the warming circle because it's what she does to make the hive strong.  

In a single day, a worker bee may visit up to 10,000 flowers to collect nectar and spread pollen! LMES has just over 850 students, and while it may feel like 10,000 on busy days, Mrs. Gasper's role as a positivity pollinator is one she takes very seriously in Little Miami Elementary School and the district as a whole. This year, she and her therapy dog/worker bee, Winston, began posting positive messages outside her centrally located office weekly with an overarching theme of kindness. She constantly gives positive affirmations to students and staff everywhere she goes, and she works with small groups on social skills that are sometimes needed as prerequisites for acting kindly.

Mrs. Gasper models kindness by going above and beyond to always remember the small things that make a big difference in someone's life, like asking about a family member or saying Happy Birthday. She regularly nominates staff and community members for the Panther Pride Award given by the Little Miami Board of Education. Those are the incremental culture shifts that will change the entire vibe of a hive over time when positivity is spread from one person to another consistently. 
"Dawn Gasper is famous for three things at Little Miami Elementary School; the speed at which she moves/distance she covers in a school day, leaving her phone and glasses everywhere, and being the mom of Winston," said Gates. "She may never make the $200 billion revenue the honey bees bring in, but to the past, present, and future students, staff, and families of Little Miami, she is priceless and worth a lifetime of LifeChanger of the Year awards. Our hive is a thriving, healthy community because of the time, energy, and love she pours into it daily, which is worth its weight in gold (or honey) to us."

Comments (15)

Lori Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Dawn…you deserve every single accolade!

Yvonne Kaszubowski Posted over a year ago

Dawn is so deserving of this award! Her heart is in it for the students she serves. She brings energy and love to her work. What a fantastic and fitting nominee as lifechanger because she has definitely done just that in her role within education. Congratulations, Dawn. Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of the students and district. You are a gem!

Janet and Tricia Posted over a year ago

About time, congrats. You have gone above and beyond in all the schools you have been in. Replacement of you will require at least two people. No one, today, is willing to work an eighteen hour day.

Dale Grooms Posted over a year ago

Much deserved honor. Dawn is a very caring ,and wonderful person. She is a fellow colleague that puts her students and community first. My congratulations to her.

Robin Griggs Posted over a year ago

Well deserved. Dawn is such an amazing person. I am very grateful she and I crossed paths in this crazy journey of education. Her kindness and concern for her students is unlike anything I've seen. Her kindness doesn't stop there, she is always concerned about the staff she is in contact with. Always a smile on her face and such a positive attitude. Congratulations!!!!

Syndra Snelling Posted over a year ago

Dawn has been a friend, colleague and mentor to me. She is always there and will do anything to support anyone. She is a gift in my life!

Jill Dumford Posted over a year ago

I have been a teacher in the building with Dawn for years. I can say without a doubt that I feel more comfortable, supported, and safe when Dawn is in the building supporting our efforts in the classroom and our students anytime we need her help. I am a better teacher to my students because I know Dawn is behind the scenes reaching out to parents, doctors, administrators, and community members to ensure our students do not slip through the cracks. She ensures that communication has been made to everyone involved and always provides follow-up support to classroom teachers so we know how to proceed in the classroom. I am a better person and educator because of the time I've worked with Dawn Gasper.

Peggy Noggler Posted over a year ago

Mrs, Gasper has been a treasure to our family. Both my children have benefitted from her assistance in and out of school life. She is so personal and caring. She goes beyond the school surroundings, supporting her students in outside activities like sports activities and 4H events. As a parent, she has been a wealth of knowledge and caring to me and I treasure all her support and sincerity in dealing with our family. She follows through on what she talks about and goes the extra step to make sure that all expectations have been met. Her contacts are countless and she works diligently to connect needed parties together. Thank you forever for your dedication and involvement with our children.

Kathryn Holcomb Posted over a year ago

Dawn is an amazing friend, colleague, and community member. I can't name a single person on our staff or in our building that has not been touched by her "buzzing" presence. She embodies our Panther family and I can't think of a more deserving recipient of this award. It is an honor to call her a mentor, colleague, and friend!

Bobbie Grice Posted over a year ago

This award amplifies all that Dawn Gasper does for our school, our kids, our families, our community and staff! We thank you Fawn for your love and commitment and your beautiful spirit!

Marla Posted over a year ago

Congratulations Dawn, so well deserved! Thank you for everything you do for the students, staff and LM families!

Mary Wood Posted over a year ago

Above and Beyond is the baseline at which Dawn works every single day. She is both a wealth of knowledge and a caring soul - a combination of skills that makes her a superhero in our school building.

Lisa Kuhn Posted over a year ago

Wow! Words cannot express just how positive Dawn is. As the district's instructional design coach, I have the pleasure of working with Dawn on leveraging technology in her role as counselor and, let me tell you, she not only is positive with those around her, she lives positivity as she learns more tools and strategies to use to support students, staff, families and the community. She is an amazing lady! Dawn, thank you for being such a positive spark in the lives of those around you and me, in particular! :)

Courtney Munafo Posted over a year ago

Very well said... our school and community is richer because of Mrs. Gasper! I am always amazed at how she handles a full plate with such grace and poise. Thanks for being here for our teachers and students, Mrs. Gasper!

Kim Milnickel Posted over a year ago

I don't know how Dawn has the energy needed to keep up with Winston, who loves to run up and down our halls, greeting children on a daily basis. I wish she could bottle her energy and sell me some of it. She cares so much about all of the students at Little Miami Elementary. She works tirelessly to meet as many needs as she possibly can. My students look forward to their personal chats with Mrs. Gasper. She is a dynamo! She is small but might, just like the bee!! We are lucky to have her in our building.