Mrs. Heather Liuzzo-Music-Mater Dei Academy

"She has really saved our daughter's life," said the parents across the conference table from me. "She used to hate to come to school. She was just so different than the other kids. Then we transferred her to MDA, and she met Mrs. Liuzzo, who discovered that she could sing. Now, not only does she love singing, but she also is so excited to be in choir and the school musical. She has friends, and she loves coming to school."

Student actress in the middle school production of The Little Mermaid. 

While listening to this couple's story, I remembered with gratitude my own daughter's experience. She, too, had transferred from public school. A bright, creative, and unique child, she struggled with bullies and social ostracism. When Mrs. Liuzzo chose her for a part in the school musical, Annie Get Your Gun, my daughter's world lit up. She was welcomed into a community which celebrated her talent and creativity. One fantastic teacher helped my girl find her voice, and she is still singing today, quite literally, as a vocal performance and biochemistry major in college.

These two stories are parallel, but not isolated. Year after year, this teacher helps students find their voices. She has influenced hundreds of students through her classes, choirs and musicals. She is truly a teacher who changes lives.