Dawn Oswalt, Richland School District Five

NBCT, M.Ed, GT Endorsed

Dawn Oswalt enrolled in a half-day professional study event offered by her school district in which the impact of poverty and the importance of relationships as a mitigating factor was explored. A few months after that session, she made contact with the Center to share how she had used that one strategy to change the life of a student in her class. Oswalt believes that because of her focus on building relationships with every student, a 10-year-old child felt comfortable sharing plans for suicide in a letter to her. A team of counselors and psychologists were assembled and they discovered that and a weapon had been chosen, but because a positive student-teacher relationship was in place, the child received treatment and after a few weeks was back at school…happy and well.

As the academic year came to a close, Oswalt again contacted the Center. She shared the concerns she felt throughout the year because of her emphasis on the development of relationships that may have taken away from academics. She worried that the time she spent building personal connections with students would have a negative impact on test scores. Yet, she continued to work on relationships, and when the assessments of academic performance were analyzed, the academic gains were higher than ever before.

Oswalt says, “I am so grateful for the professional development you provide to me this year. Focusing on student relationships this year continues to reap positive benefits. Thank you for your work! You truly are changing and saving lives.”