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Pinewood Elementary teacher nominated for national award

Posted: 8:18 PM, Oct 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-01 00:18:59Z

A Martin County teacher is nominated for the National Lifechanger Award, after a mom said she changed the course of her daughter's educational career.

"I no longer worry about Graci struggling all through school," said Joan Raines, who nominated her daughter's first-grade teacher for the Lifechanger Award.

Graci Raines struggled with reading until she got into Melissa Cowen's first-grade class at Pinewood Elementary. Her mom said reading homework nights were always a battle.

“Graci had no interest in reading," she said. "I would just sit and cry. Because I can’t help her.”

"She didn’t enjoy it and that makes me sad because I know how much reading is depended on for all of our subjects," Cowen said.

Determined to help Graci succeed, Cowen gave her personalized attention, using lunch periods and off time to help Graci learn, and love, reading. She also helped secure Graci a spot in a summer reading program.

"I want them to believe that they can do it and I want them to go forward knowing I believe they can do it," said Cowen, referencing what she tries to teach all of her first-grade students.

Graci is now succeeding in second grade, so Raines nominated Cowen for the Lifechager Award. They're awaiting results of the competition.

"I’m not the life changer," Cowen said. "The kids that I’m with every day, they change my life."

"Go from a mindset of I don’t want to get up for school, I don’t want to go to school, I don’t like school because I don’t understand it to let me get up, get dressed, pack my lunch, I’m ready to go, mom take me to school because I love it, that is life changing," Raines said.

Several other teachers from Martin County and Palm Beach County are nominated for the Lifechanger Award. See the list of nominees here