A teacher in the Forney Independent School District is up for a national award that recognizes excellence, positive influence and leadership in the classroom.
The best part of the nomination is that it came from a former student.
Jennifer Pratt teaches music and is the musical theatre director at Claybon Elementary School. Allie Crabtree was Pratt's student years ago and the two have stayed in touch. The continued connection and encouragement prompted Crabtree to nominate Pratt for the 2017-2018 National LifeChanger of the Year Award, sponsored and run by insurance company National Life Group and its foundation.
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Crabtree's nomination put her former teacher in the running for one of 17 national awards. Here's the nomination from the Life Changer of the Year website:
"Mrs. Pratt is a remarkable woman who has inspired many children to follow their dreams by sharing a love of music. She impacted Crabtree's life by introducing her to her passion, musical theatre. Pratt has a warm presence that lights up a room. She is a dedicated music teacher who spends countless hours teaching and loving her students.
'One thing that sets Mrs. Pratt apart is her drive to get to know her students personally. When you walk into her classroom, she always greets you with a smile and asks you about your day, even when she is struggling,' Crabtree said.
Mrs. Pratt may teach music during the school day, but after hours, she becomes a director, who works many hours to create an environment that allows students to express themselves freely. Pratt has directed many musicals at Claybon Elementary School and has inspired many students to pursue musical theatre.
'I am no longer her student, but I still receive Mrs. Pratt's love and support in my plan to pursue musical theatre. Without her guidance, many students, along with myself, would not have found our passion, our purpose, or our joy, which is music,' Crabtree said. 'The students at Claybon Elementary, past and present, are so lucky to have someone like Mrs. Pratt. She is a true life changer.'"
The Forney ISD says Pratt joined the district in 2008 and has been at Claybon her entire career. In 2014, she was named the Claybon Elementary Teacher of the Year and the district's Elementary Teacher of the Year. She was also a finalist for the Region 10 Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2014.
Now, Pratt's in the running for national recognition. Seventeen individual LifeChanger of the Year awards will be given during the 2017-2018 school year. The Grand Prize Winner will receive $10,000 that will be shared with their school and district.
The National Life Group Foundation will award one Grand Prize Winner, four Grand Prize Finalists, 10 LifeChanger Award winners, a Spirit Award winner and a Spotlight Award winner.
Winners are chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals and are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The grand prize finalists will be honored at a national awards ceremony in spring 2018 in Bermuda, where the Grand Prize Winner will be revealed.
To be considered for an award, nominees must make a positive impact in the lives of students, enhance their school or district's atmosphere, culture and pride, demonstrate exemplary leadership at the school or district level, possess a proven record of professional excellence, show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning and adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards.