may nominee

Amanda Martinsen

The Nora Project at Glen Grove School

Amanda Martinsen is a 5th grade teacher at Glen Grove Elementary School in Glenview District 34 who designed and implemented The Nora Project, a school-wide, year-long project for 5th grade students to learn about various physical and emotional conditions of marginalized, misunderstood children, and to build friendships with these children.The Nora Project helps students build awareness, understanding, and empathy for physical and emotional conditions such as Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, autism, and brain injuries.

The project grew out of a conversation with Amanda’s cousin, whose daughter, Nora, was born more than 4 months prematurely, and whose left brain was damaged during surgery. Nora was later diagnosed with West Syndrome, a disabling form of epilepsy. Nora’s mother was concerned that her child’s disabilities would prevent her from ever making friends. She wanted other children to know Nora’s special story, and the special stories of others like her. Amanda knew that with guidance and direction, the fifth graders at her school could tell these stories with understanding and empathy. Amanda set out to find a way for her students to learn the stories of children like Nora, building compassion, understanding and, ultimately, friendships with children with disabilities. She thought that her students had not had any meaningful opportunity to build friendships with children who have special needs, and she wanted to change this.

Amanda brainstormed engaging and relevant ways for her students to learn about this topic and engage with these children. Her brainstorm quickly developed into a rough design of a year long project, broken into 5 phases that integrated the reading, writing, and social emotional learning standards. Students would gather information based on their interactions with these children, as well as from the children’s family members and friends, to share a child’s story in the form of a documentary. A film festival is held at the end of the school year to showcase the documentaries.

Amanda’s tireless dedication and passion for this project has inspired the entire 5th grade team and its students. Parents of the children recruited for this project have been brought to tears knowing that Amanda is advocating for their children and striving to carve out a better life for them – a life filled with friendship.

january spotlight

When Lincoln Park resident Dennis Shea retired from a lengthy career in sales and management with Hershey Foods, he knew he needed more than golf clubs to get him through retirement…read more

april spotlight

Remember someone that inspired you as a child? Meet Mr. David Fox, Oak Lawn resident and Boy Scout Troop Leader 788 volunteer. Mr. Fox joined the scouting family in 1958 when he first became…read more

july spotlight

Gabriella Frank, an incoming seventh grader, started a program called “Books by the Beach” to help collect books and school supplies and donate them to less fortunate…read more

february spotlight

Remember grade school recess? It can be tough for some kids and a breeding ground for bullying. Four 4th graders from Lincolnwood School District decided “Buddy Benches” were one way to help…read more

may spotlight

Amanda Martinsen is a 5th grade teacher who designed and implemented a school-wide project where students to learn about physical and emotional conditions of disabled children…read more

august spotlight

Mrs. Tamara Polakowski, a 1st grade teacher at Madison Elementary in Lombard, goes above the call of a teacher’s duty by education outside of a textbook…read more

march spotlight

Imagine hearing the words “Down syndrome” as a new parent. Where would you turn? Bill and Dawn Buckley of Dyer, Indiana turned to the Down Syndrome Association of Northwest Indiana…read more

june spotlight

Gayla Smith is a military mom of two members of the United States Navy. Each year her and her husband host a backyard BBQ to simply raise money for Building for America’s Bravest…read more

september spotlight

When Cathleen Aquino isn’t working as a NICU nurse, she volunteers with Children’s Oncology Services improving the life of children diagnosed with cancer…read more

rewarding great individuals

Each month, meatheads will select one person who exemplifies the company’s standards of determination, hustle & hard work. If you know someone who demonstrate the meatheads values, please let us know!

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