LifeScape teacher wins national award

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Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:34 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - Jackie Kocak figured out her calling in life when she was in college.

“During college, I worked at a place in Worthington, Minnesota, that served children with disabilities. And I said, ‘This is what I want to do,’” said Jackie.

That would eventually lead to two different stints of teaching kids at LifeScape in Sioux Falls, totaling 20 years.

“I just love children in general. Children with special needs, they need extra attention, and they need extra help, and it’s very rewarding,” said Jackie.

“I honestly can’t put into words for people, to truly understand how incredible Jackie is. She is the most kind, caring, compassionate person that we have here at LifeScape,” said Specialty School Principal Brittany Dawson.

Jackie was recently named the 2023 Direct Care Worker of the Year. She got the award at an event in New Orleans last week.

“She’s very deserving of this award. She works with some of our harder students, when it comes to the medically complex,” said Brittany.

“It totally caught me off guard because I didn’t even know I was nominated. That’s the start of it. And then they said it was a national award, and I thought, ‘How in the world did this happen.’ I had no idea. Through the course of talking to different people, I realized more about it — that I was nominated by people in this building. I’m very honored, very humbled,” said Jackie.

After the current school year, Jackie will retire. And it will be tough to leave.

“I see a lot of good happen here. I see a team of people all the way around, all working for the same result. We’re all working for that child and their needs and giving them the best life we can,” said Jackie.