Van Wert City Schools’ Career Counselor, Kerry Koontz, has been nominated for the 2019-2020 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.
Mr. Koontz was nominated by Bob Priest, Van Wert High School Principal, for pioneering a student internship program at Van Wert High School called the CEO (Career Education Opportunities) Program. Mr. Koontz has over 30 years of experience in education, both in the classroom and as a counselor. To better prepare students for life after high school, Mr. Koontz wanted to improve the way in which students are educated in the demands of different career fields, the cost of college, and the various certifications and licensures required for employment.
In 2015, Mr. Koontz set out to create a program that offered high school students the ability to gain hands-on experience for high school credit in a career field they wished to pursue by presenting the idea of student-interns to local businesses. Needless to say, many of them had their reservations. The first year saw 11 businesses willing to work with 17 students. However, the CEO Program is currently in its fourth year and continues to grow as more businesses express interest in joining, and all seniors in Van Wert County are able to participate, regardless of which school they attend. The CEO Program is proud to say 45 businesses now work with over 75 students!
Principal Bob Priest had this to say about Mr. Koontz, “It is my privilege to have nominated Kerry Koontz for this award, as I have personally witnessed students make career decisions, which directly impact their lives, as a result of this program. Furthermore, I believe the CEO program has brought all stakeholders of Van Wert County together in a collaborative effort which is leading to better educated students who are more prepared for success after high school.”
Each school year, the LifeChanger of the Year program receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. For 2019-2020, 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
- 1 Spotlight Award Winner
Each winner will receive a cash award that is split between the individual winner and their school. The national Grand Prize award is $10,000. Winners are announced via surprise award ceremonies held at their schools. The top five winners will also be honored at a national awards ceremony in Palm Beach, FL. Winners will be announced in Spring 2020.
Winners will be chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals. Nominees must be school district employees. Award winners are selected based on the following criteria:
- A proven ability to make a beneficial difference in the lives of students
- An ability to positively add to the development of the school's atmosphere
- Is involved in leadership activities at the school and/or community level
- A demonstrative record of excellent performance at the professional level
- A commitment to producing a nurturing atmosphere
- Adherence to high moral and ethical standards
To support his nomination, VWCS invites anyone whose life has been influenced by Mr. Koontz to visit his profile page and post a positive comment. Comments are taken into consideration by the selection committee when determining winners, including the LifeChanger Spirit Award, which will be given to the nominee whose community demonstrates the most support. VWCS encourages you to share your support for Mr. Koontz across social media outlets with the hashtag #LCOY.
Click the button to visit Mr. Koontz's profile page.