Knies awarded LifeChanger of the Year awardNovember 22, 2019
By LEANN BURKE
JASPER — Applause erupted from Jasper High School’s gym Thursday morning as the entire staff and student body celebrated School Resource Officer Jason Knies.
Knies won the LifeChanger of the Year award from the National Life Group Foundation. It’s a prestigious award, with only 17 recipients chosen this year from a pool of about 1,000 nominees nationwide. According to the program’s website, the LifeChanger of the Year award honors K-12 educators and school employees “who are making a significant difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.” Assistant Superintendent of Support Services and Transportation Glenn Buechlein, who works closely with Knies on school safety, nominated Knies for the award.
“He is one of those rare individuals who truly goes above and beyond on a daily basis,” Buechlein said at the award convocation. “I can think of no one more deserving of an award based on service to others.”
In his nomination, Buechlein mentioned a long list of tasks Knies handles around Greater Jasper Schools, including driving a school bus, teaching DARE drug-free classes, offering self-defense lessons to students and staff, participating in the Health Occupations Students of America program to mentor students interested in forensics and law enforcement, and helping found an after-school archery club. He also spearheaded creating “Law and Let’s Order,” a program to reward positive acts. Students are nominated by classroom instructors or other staff, and are called to the office and awarded with a T-shirt. Then, the students are entered into a monthly drawing to eat lunch with Knies.
The nomination materials also mentioned Knies’ “unique ability to effectively communicate with all stakeholders.”
Knies received the award in a surprise ceremony that preceded an already-scheduled schoolwide speaker. That way, school administrators knew the award would be a surprise. As students filed into the gym around 9 a.m., Knies stood at one of the doors greeting the students and reminding them that backpacks weren’t allowed in the convocation. At that point, he was unaware he would, momentarily, be the main event. After the event, he admitted he was totally surprised and honored by the award.
At the heart of Knies’ efforts around the school community is a desire to help those around him.
“I feel like I’m giving back to the community with the things I get involved in,” he said. “I enjoy all the things I get involved with.”
Knies’ two children, Quinten, 9, and Kinley, 6, attended the award ceremony, as did his wife, Heather.
“We’re so proud of him,” Heather said. “He’s so deserving of this. He works so hard.”
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