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A very special gift for a very special teacher…Karen Marinelli

If you ever post anything on my Facebook page, I ALWAYS read it.  I may not get a chance to answer everything, but I do see it.

During the week of my Ultimate Chevron Giveaway, I noticed a comment from someone who mentioned that her friend deserved the package because she was injured protecting her students from the tornado in Moore, Oklahoma.

After reading that, I had to find out more about this teacher.  I reached out to the person that made the comment, Tessa Proffitt. 

Tessa explained the situation and shared the story of this remarkable teacher, Karen Marinelli.  Karen’s story brought tears to my eyes.  Being a mother and a teacher, I was so moved by this special woman. 

karen marinelli

Here is Karen’s story…

  Karen’s friend, Tessa, explained that Karen loves the Schoolgirl Style website and she was crazy about all of the chevron products we featured last week. 

I’m sure you can agree, Karen is so deserving of our Ultimate Chevron Giveaway prize package!

So, although Karen wasn’t my grand prize winner, after discussing the situation with the other girls involved in the giveaway, we decided to give Karen everything from the giveaway, PLUS a little more!

Karen will be receiving…

1.  $350 from Creative Teaching Press

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Karen will need to decorate and replenish classroom supplies. Creative Teaching Press has generously offered to help Karen rebuild her classroom. 

2.  The entire store from A Modern Teacher!

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April McNair from A Modern Teacher has offered to give Karen anything she would like from her shop!

3.  Tote bag from Ooh Baby Designs

large Teacher Tote Deluxe

Karen will be getting the DELUXE teacher tote bag!  Karen will be toting her papers home in style!

4.  An outfit from Sass My Style Boutique

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Sass My Style Boutique will make sure that Karen will be one of the most stylish teachers in Oklahoma!

5.  A $30 gift certificate to Stella & Dot

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Jewelry stylist, Katie Redmond, will make sure that Karen has some fabulous accessories to go with her new outfit!

6.  Finally, I would like to give Karen ANYTHING in the Schoolgirl Style Shop, including personal design service for her new classroom.  Karen and I can work together to design Karen’s new dream classroom when she returns to school in the fall.

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Karen’s dedication to her students and her ultimate sacrifice of putting herself in harms way to protect her children is, in my opinion, the most honorable act of heroism. 

Someone mentioned on my blog that they heard the media reported that 2013 was “The Year of the Teacher.”  I couldn’t agree more.  Just when our profession seems to be taking a hit, people like Karen bring the honor and respect back for teachers.

After the Sandy Hook shootings, I was so so emotional.  To cope with the unfathomable crime that was committed, I wrote a blog post to sort out my feelings.  Here is a piece of what I wrote…

As a teacher, there is an unspoken understanding that once those children enter my classroom, I become their “substitute mother.”  It’s not in the job description or in my contract, it is something that comes from within and just happens.  From that first day of meeting my students, they become “mine.”  I am responsible for each child  in my classroom.  I push them to do their best.  I encourage them to work hard.  I praise them endlessly and scold them when they need it.  I expect them to show their manners.  I teach them how to get along with others.  I give them hugs when they are hurt, when they do something I am proud of, or “just because.”  I hold their little hands as we walk down the hallway.  We laugh together, sing songs, and dance.  I show them how to be a good friend.  I am there to cheer them up when their feelings are hurt or when their best friend doesn’t want to play with them.  I comfort them when they are sad.  I hear every tattle and injustice in their little worlds and teach them how to handle disappointments.  I encourage and model kindness and instill empathy for others.  I tell them over and over how much I care about them, and yes, I tell them that I love them.  I invest my time and energy into each one of my students and after my day is finished, I’ve spent more time with them than my own family.  I will do everything in my power to protect them and keep them safe. 

I would die for them.

When those parents leave their children with me, it is my duty to do whatever it takes to make sure they go home safely, even if it means that my own children would be motherless. 

I would never ask for anyone to “pat me on the back.”  This is the profession I chose.  This IS my calling.  Yes, protecting a child might be a “human instinct,” but it is deeper than that.  These students are MY children.  Each one has a piece of my heart.

Teachers do extraordinary things EVERY SINGLE DAY.

This is how I feel about Karen.  Karen is a hero in my eyes, along with all of her colleagues.  Karen makes me proud to be a teacher.  I can’t think of a more noble and selfless job.

So, thank you, Karen!

I would love it if you could take a minute and send some well wishes to our friend.  I am sure that your messages and kind words can lift her spirits during this hard time.




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  1. I new you were amazing after looking at your website and replying to my email. But wow now I know you are truly of one God’s servants. May He bless you and your family in all that you do. Thanks again for taking the time to reply to my piddlly email. (Southern slang) lol
    God bless!!

  2. What a beautiful gesture. I hope we will see a pic of her in her new classroom with her new outfit and jewelry.

  3. Wow! You are a very generous and giving person! Congrats to Karen and thank you for putting yourself in danger to protect those kids! That’s what we are hear for is the kids and you showed that. Enjoy putting your dream classroom together and remember you are special too and deserve this gift 100%! Thanks for sharing the story Melanie! You are a very generous person!!

  4. I have tears in my eyes from reading Karen’s story and from what you wrote Melanie! You both are truly amazing women and teachers! I come from a family of teachers and I am so proud of each and every one of them! My Dad was a wonderful teacher for 30 years and he dedicated his life to teaching and he cared for each and everyone of his students, never missed a day, spent extra time and let them know they are special and have so much to offer! Melanie, I feel blessed to have you in my life, my friend and sister! You inspire me to follow my dreams and to be a better person! You have such a kind heart! What a wonderful thing you are doing for her! Love it and just wanted you to know!! 🙂 THANK YOU TO ALL THE TEACHERS OUT THERE!!

  5. Thank you for sharing her story, and the blog post you made after Sandy Hook. Both made me cry! And your generosity made me cry, too! I applaud you for blessing this wonderful teacher! She DOES deserve it!

  6. This story brought tears to my eyes! I am proud to share the same profession! I am thankful that you are honoring Karen! Thank goodness as a teacher I have not been tested to protect my students like Karen did! She should be rewarded! I am sure she did everything without thinking about it- it is what we would do for our kids! I hope she and her community continues to heal from this awful tragedy!

  7. First of all, Melanie, what an awesome gift for Karen! Thanks to all of you who have donated such great items. Karen, thank you for being a hero to your students. And, Melanie, thank you for your former blog post–those words are so true for many teachers. Thank you for expressing your thoughts so eloquently. I love kindness!!

  8. I am also a a teacher from Oklahoma. I am in a small town Southeast of Moore. That was a very scary day at our school as well. The skies were dark and our principal got on the intercom to assure the students that he was aware of the weather and to remind the teachers to review our tornado precautions with our students. I am a special education teacher and my students were very anxious during this time. The tornado did not touch down in our town. When I got home and watched the news, I was horrified at what I was watching. Karen,you are my hero as well. God Bless you. You deserve all of these gifts. I pray that you have a good summer and enjoy decorating your room. Thank you for being an incredible example of the love that teachers feel for each of their students. God Bless you!,

  9. Karen saved my son that day, and I can not descride how grateful I am for her. She is our hero. She is so deserving of such an amazing tribute and gifts! Teacher of the year for sure!!

  10. Thank you Karen. When you are well enough, and feel up to it, contact me about your Teacher tote bag. We can make it in any color/pattern combination you’d like. I’ll hold off until you decide on your new classroom decor and we’ll make sure it matches and looks fabulous! Oh yeah, it totally must be monogrammed on both sides as well! God speed on your healing girl, you did well. Really, really well. 🙂

    • I am sooooo excited about my tote bag!! Thank you so much!! I can’t wait to get with you on the the colors & patterns!! I will contact you as soon as I know what we’re doing with my room!!!! 🙂

  11. Melanie,
    You and your crew are amazing. This is a fantastic story! I agree Karen is well deserving. Thank you for stepping up and showering her with these goodies. You all rock!

  12. All I can say is wow. I’m so grateful I found your blog and was able to read this tonight. Karen truly deserves what she’s getting and, Melanie, thank you for doing what you do. It’s nice to see people who aren’t all about what’s in it for them.

  13. Melanie,

    This is a beautifully written post. Your words recount what every teacher thinks and feels everyday. Karen is so deserving of thsi amazing gift and I can not wait to see what you design for her! You are amazing, Melanie! I am so glad I stopped by tonight to read this. God bless!

    The Applicious Teacher

  14. How amazing!! I was touched both by Karen’s story, and your generosity. God Bless.

  15. What a wonderfully generous act by Karen, a truly courageous lady. As a teacher and parent I hope my sons teacher feels the same. How exceptionally generous of schoolgirl style and all it’s connections to recognise Karens selfless act. Melanie you should feel very proud of the blog and business you have. When I feel bogged down by all the external pressures from the government, I know I can read something from you and it always reminds me why I do this job. Why I chose this vocation and it is those little smiley faces that light up your heart! Your words sum up precisely how every teacher must feel. Thank you for sharing the stories, anecdotes and truly inspirational pieces with the world. This particular act of generosity by Karen and yourselves made me cry x

  16. Your generosity and thoughtfulness along with you blog post after Sandy Hook clearly shows YOU have a heart of gold! Your actions are an inspiration to many.

  17. What a sweet and amazing gesture… and for a sweet and amazing woman! Teachers are overall wonderful people called to do a difficult job. Thank you BOTH for reminding those who don’t see this dedication daily, just how much of a blessing a REAL teacher can be. 🙂 Bless you both!

  18. This is amazing story – you certainly picked the right person to receive all of these prizes. Thanks for being so generous and Katie – from one 1st grade teacher to another, you are a hero.

  19. Wow. What an amazing woman, teacher, and story! Karen, you are awesome. Praying for swift recovery for you! Melanie, I can’t get over your sweetness and generosity… all the time. 🙂 I can’t wait to see this fabulous classroom!

  20. You are both beautiful souls whom we are blessed with as educators and mentors to our children. WoW! Thank you for your generosity and for honoring Karen’s heartbeat.

  21. What a great story!! I have tears in my eyes after reading this. You are all those who are giving gifts to Karen are truly angels sent by God. God will reward you 10 fold for your generosity!! God bless you all!! 🙂

  22. Wow. I just read the news article and all I can say is wow.

    I hope that Karen recovers quickly and I think that this generous gift will help her feel more at ease whenever she is able to come back and teach. My thoughts and prayers are with you, Karen!

  23. What a kind & generous person you are, Melanie!! What a blessing you and all of the giveaway gals are to Karen and really to all of the teachers out there who just want to be the best teacher they can be.

  24. Melanie –

    Thank you so much for sharing this story with all of us. I agree and am crying with you. Karen truly is a hero to all of us. I read that her husband is out of work and so she has many needs. I was wondering if we can do more… help more. I would love to know if she had a paypal account so we could raise and send funds to help her and her family out as well.

    HUGS to you both!

    • I think there was information about that at the bottom of the news article…thank you so much, Misty!!!

    • Hi Misty,
      I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your concern!! That is so sweet of you! The news clip incorrectly stated that my husband is “out of work”, but the news article stated it correctly, that he is taking time from work to stay home with me. The reason the fund was set up is because while he is on a leave of absence he is not being paid. Unfortunately in his current position he does not have paid leave or benefits. I just wanted to make sure no one thought he was out of a job as well as me being injured!! 🙂 We do have two funds set up, one is at Bank First of Oklahoma. The fund is in the name Dominic Marinelli in behalf of Karen Marinelli, the other account is a pay pal account that can be found at, search “Karen Marinelli”
      Again, my thanks for how much people care and want to help. We have truly been blessed by the generousity of people all over the United States.

  25. What an outstanding and deserving teacher! I love this post because it represents the good in the world!

  26. What an incredible post… your words and actions have brought tears to my eyes! You have a beautiful way of expressing exactly how I feel as a teacher. And what a deserving teacher… I’m sure she appreciates your kindness! Cheers to teachers and kind hearts!

  27. Melanie as much as I love stylish things and come to your site for inspiration for my classroom today I found “Moore” than that. Your story on this teacher is inspiring and the blog post you wrote after Sandy Hook pulled at my heart strings. I feel the same way about my students. Your generosity is amazing but your kindness and love for others is awesome. Keep up the great work.

  28. Wow!! I already loved your products, your style, your love for education and now your generosity and your heart!!! In todays world, we all need to be there for those who are willing to give so much for others. Thanks for all you do!!

  29. Such an amazing story and I love your thoughts on this matter! I think it is amazing for you to do this for her! Can’t wait to follow up on her new decor/line!

  30. My cousin pointed me in the direction of your site when she was trying to help me recover from a “I have no idea what to do!” moment at my new school. I typed in chevron in the search and come across this post. I am so proud to be an Okie and so glad that this deserving life toucher was honored! Thank you for your generosity and compassion! And great stuff! 🙂

  31. I just found your site through Pinterest. I love all your styles, especially the apples! I am a volunteer child advocate. I have an AAS in Early Childhood Education and used to be a Teacher Assistant for Head Start and other preschools. I’m a mother of four children, ages 22 yrs – 11 yrs, and I homeschool my youngest who has ADD and is functioning two grade levels below average.

    I so appreciate all you and your connections are doing for Karen of Moore, OK. Thank you.
    (Here’s our resources webpage we created for the Moore, OK tornado survivors ) I’m looking forward to following your ideas on this blog and on Pinterest. 🙂

  32. *Tears* from the beauty that is within each of you ladies. I love what you wrote about children are yours when they enter your room. I feel the exact same way.

  33. I wanted to thank you all for what you are doing for my friend, Karen! Karen was my oldest *about to be 4th grader* daughter’s 1st grade teacher! I taught w/her sister-in-law & coached her son in soccer. She is an amazing Momma, wife, friend, teacher, & more! Teachers go above & beyond everyday for their students but on that unforgetable day I witnessed teachers, principals, students, etc go above that! I saw people come together to help & protect others! Karen did just that & more! I too am a PROUD OKIE!!!!!! & would love to help you this week if you need it to put her room together! God Bless all you teachers! As the PTA, homeroom mom, & parent I see 1st hand how much y’all do & I can’t thank you all enough for what y’all do to guide our children to do their best & know that they can do ANYTHING they want to if they work hard & try their best!

  34. Thank you for these posts. I could not sum up how I feel about my students any better than what you did in your post. They are MY babies, and they are for the rest of their life. Thank you to all of the wonderful teachers who do incredible things each and every day!

  35. I am so overwhelmed at the kindness and love you have shown for somebody whom you have never personally met. When people are giving teachers a bad rap they need to meet teachers like you and all the other teachers that have made this happen for Karen. Bless you for the teacher you are but mostly bless you for the person you are. I have been impressed by your talent and creativity but I am more impressed by the loving, giving person you are.
    You are right about kids being yours forever. I saw one of my students that I taught over 25 years ago today and it made my heart happy to get to hug her neck and catch up on her life.
    I am an OKIE too. I am also starting my 33 year of teaching this year.

  36. Thank you for saying so well what I feel. Teaching IS a calling. The children in my class are “my” kids forever. Thank you for taking care of one of our own. God bless Karen.

  37. Thank you for sharing this. I always hope that people who face adversity and trauma are helped in many ways. Karen deserves such appreciation and honor. And Melanie you deserve a heart felt thank you for being there to help ths one women. In turn, you are going to be reaching many children and their parents and families. God bless ♥

  38. What a generous gesture that you and the other women did for the teacher in OK. Then for you to personally help her decorate her classroom. Hats off to you! God bless you!

    Your posts about Karen, the teacher, in OK brought tears to my eyes and also reminded me why I love my job. Like you I aso refer to the students in my class as MY children and nobody treats them unfairly. Teachers are like mother hens when it comes to their students and they will walk through fire for them. Thank you for reminding me why I also love teaching.

  39. All I can think of is WOW, to you and your team and to Karen and her family. I watched the video and sat her tearing up like a baby Karen you are in my thoughts and prayers, you are a blessing to any classroom and a testament to our profession. Melanie, my words cannot begin to express my feelings for you doning all that you have done to help Karen. Reminds me how all of us no matter where we are are kindred spirits. Thank you for making my day.

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