VALDOSTA – Valdosta City Schools Induction Support Specialist Dr. LaConya McCrae has been nominated for the 2023-2024 national LifeChanger of the Year award.
“Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, the national LifeChanger of the Year program recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 public and private school educators and employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence, and leadership,” according to a press release.
McCrae’s nomination was submitted by an anonymous community member who recognized her commitment to excellence in education over the past 25 years. The nomination submission included comments from leaders throughout Valdosta City Schools.
“Dr. McCrae is a highly motivated educator and accepts and accomplishes all tasks with a spirit of excellence. She welcomes and embraces new challenges and tasks as a true team player. Her grave passion for education has been the driving force that has consistently motivated students and staff she has worked with to accomplish the most optimal success,” Owen Clemons, human resource director for Valdosta City Schools, said in the release.
He continued, “Dr. McCrae is more than just an educator, she is a mentor, evangelist, role model, motivational speaker, encourager, trailblazer, and community engager. Dr. McCrae is dependable, trustworthy, well respected, resourceful, and possesses both high energy and great interpersonal skills. We are extremely grateful to have such a dedicated and exceptional colleague among us in the Valdosta City School District’s workplace.”
McCrae began her education career graduating with a Bachelors of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from Valdosta State University in 1997. She started within Tift County Schools System as a paraprofessional at J.T. Reddick Elementary School and transitioned as a sixth grade teacher in March 1998 the same academic year.
She entered Valdosta City Schools in 2004 and has fulfilled various roles throughout her career. She’s served from a fifth grade classroom teacher to an instructional lead teacher and administration positions. McCrae currently serves as an induction support specialist, where she assists and supports newly hired or incoming teachers within the district who have less than three years of teaching experience. She’s held this position for three years.
When asked how it felt to be nominated for this opportunity McCrae said, “This nomination is really a spotlight for all educators because you cannot work in this profession and not be a life changer. Having a positive impact on children is very important.”
McCrae’s passion for learning has motivated her throughout her own educational pursuits and throughout her career. She earned her Master’s in Educational Leadership from Valdosta State University in 2005, and obtained a specialist degree in Instructional Leadership in 2011 and doctorate in Teaching and Learning from Argosy University in 2013.
She tells other colleagues and educators to never stop learning and to strive for great working relationships with students, their parents and stakeholders within the local community.
For 2023-2024, there will be a total of 17 individual LifeChanger of the Year awards. The awards structure is as follows: 1 National Grand Prize Winner, 4 Grand Prize Finalists, 10 LifeChanger Award Winners, 1 Spirit Award Winner and 1 Spotlight Award Winner. Each winner will receive a cash award that is split between the individual winner and their school.
McCrae thanked the nominator and said the greatest reward is to serve the children and see them grow to be the best version of themselves. Her support system includes her husband Wade McCrae, son Immanuel McCrae, her mother and siblings.
Community members and supporters can view and leave comments on McCrae’s full nominee profile by visiting the LifeChanger of the Year website.
The release said winners will be chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals. Award winners are selected based on the following criteria:
A proven ability to make a beneficial difference in the lives of studentsAn ability to positively add to the development of the school’s atmosphereIs involved in leadership activities at the school and/or community levelA demonstrative record of excellent performance at the professional levelA commitment to producing a nurturing atmosphereAdherence to high moral and ethical standards
The national grand prize award is $10,000. Winners are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The grand prize winner will also receive an all-expenses paid vacation to Maui in May 2024. Winners will be announced in Spring 2024.