2018 Submissions

2018 Richard Dewey Awards

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Submitted by: Elisa Rojas

Teacher: Mrs. Sabo

Teacher's School: The Odyssey Preparatory


The person that inspired me to work hard and believe in myself was my ninth-grade biology teacher, Mrs. Sabo.

At a young age I loved school. There was nothing better than walking into my kindergarten each day, ready to sing the ABCs and play with my friends. Through my eyes, my childhood was innocent; I never thought much of the alcohol bottles I had to take away from my mother or the time we celebrated my birthday in a rehab center after my mom relapsed and was sent back to rahab for the third time; during my lifespan. This was just a normal occurrence, I never really thought about the implications of my mother’s addictions problem until the age of six when my sister and I found ourselves standing in front of a coffin, wondering if our mom would ever wake up.

Sadly, my mom never came back. My six year old innocence held hope for weeks until I fainally realized that no one was coming to brush my hair or give me hugs because my dad had to work day and night to pay the bills and well, my mom was just gone. In the blink of an eye, there was no but me and my sister who in attempt to heal herself, ended up closing me out. So my friend became the food I surrounded myself with and for the next four years food became my best friend. I ate my feelings, my pain, and my heart ache and sometimes…. Just for a second, I would feel better.

In the fourth grade, my sister convinced my dad to move us to a different school. A school where kids were not as accepting of my large size. I quickly earned names such as elephant, hippo, and fatty. I quickly learned to keep my head down, to avoid people so they wouldn’t hurt me, and to never let them see me cry. I had no friends and no hope. I found it easier to avoid emotional attachment to people so they couldn’t hurt me or call me fat.

I never really had a ‘place’ to sit at during lunch and that continued into high school. Until the day that my biology teacher offer me a seat in her classroom during lunch. For a person who had no one to sit with for so many years, she will never truly understand what it meant to me to have a lace in her classroom. The entire lunch period she sat there with me and talked about different modes of excretions in animal, a conversation I will cherish for the rest of my life. All I needed was for someone to care and whether she realized it or not, she cared. She gave me shelter when that was all I needed and me gave me a place to learn all about biology. She inspired me to pursue biology as a field and helped me when I needed it the most.

Submitted by: Brooklyn Wicker

Teacher: CPT Jeremiah Parker

Teacher's School: Summit Leadership Academy High Desert


Good tears come to my eyes when I speak on how amazing this teacher really was. CPT Jeremiah Parker was a natural born leader and a talented teacher. He knew exactly how to teach every student. He understood that every student was different, and he definitely applied that to how he taught. He was my freshman year English teacher. I had been going through a lot being hurt that my dad was not really in my life, my at home situation was really unhealthy, and I was extremely depressed. Close to the middle of the school year my attitude towards learning and school definitely changed. I was quiet, irritable, and unmotivated. He noticed this change and took it upon himself to call my mom. He told her that he noticed a negative change in my attitude toward school, society, and myself. He talked to me one on one and gave me some important advice that I still look to today, but not only did he help me personally he helped me academically. I definitely began to push myself a lot harder than I had ever done before. I read more wrote more. I even began to think on a higher and deeper level. At the end of the year he decided to move to Sweden and teach there to give his daughter a safer and more secure life. I see that as such an honorable act of love from a father. On the last day of school he gave me a book that I had fell in love with because it was on a completely level of intelligence. I had never felt so much genuine care from a teacher before; it was motivating. So thank you CPT Parker from bring me out of a deep depression and helping me see what my brain was really capable of.

Submitted By: Steven Vaughn-Lewis

Teacher: David Neale  

Teacher School: J.R. Masterman School


Mr. Neale was my 11th grade English teacher at J.R. Masterman High School. He was the only one who could get a kid like me, born and raised in inner-city North Philadelphia, interested in Dostoevsky and Homer. I remember being so engrossed in The Odyssey that I taught myself Ruby and some graphic design to make a short video-game based on the book as part of a class project.

Ten years later I feel like a completely different person, having graduated from Penn and become a teacher myself. Mr. Neale doesn’t seem to have changed very much, though I have gotten to know him and his family much better over the past few years.

I have learned that his passion for serving others extends far beyond the classroom and even beyond the continent. Ironically enough, it was he who introduced me to Africa, having encouraged me to join him in 2013 on a trip to connect with and engage with educators in Tanzania as part of the programming for an education-based NGO called Mwangaza Education for Partnership.

I have been to Tanzania two more times since Mr. Neale (I call him David now) first invited me to join him back in 2013. My involvement with Mwangaza has deepened since then. I have helped build a library, set up a digital resource center, and stock a science lab at a Tanzanian school. I am treasurer of the board of the U.S.-based fundraising arm of Mwangaza. But the most impactful fruit of all this for me is that I met the woman who is now my wife at one of the seminars that David and I helped facilitate.

I now teach at Imhotep Institute Charter High School, an African-themed school with a rich culture that emphasizes connecting with students through culturally relevant pedagogy. I want to begin a cultural exchange program between our students and students at the Tanzanian school where David and I have done our previous work. That is why I am applying for this grant – to facilitate the logistics of this program and obtain administrator and other stakeholder buy-in.

However, I only consider this a first step. My vision is for there to be a network of “Mwangaza Schools” located in the U.S. and in Africa, all aligned by a shared commitment to providing its students with an excellent, world-class education via the the pedagogical best practices that the Mwangaza program espouses.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my vision.

Submitted by: Emily Lopez

Teacher: Mr. Muro

Teacher's School: Chester W. Nimitz Middle School


I had a teacher back in 8th grade, his name was Mr. Muro and he was my P.E. teacher. I used to hate P.E. back in middle school, it was hell for me. My 6th grade teacher was kind of stuck up and a little strict, I don't quite remember who my 7th grade teacher was. 

Whenever I would run the mile and I didnt make it she would just make me run until I finished in time which was never. During 6th and 7th grade I never once made the 12 minute mile on time, not ince.

But once I got to 8th grade that changed. One day I made the 12 minute run and it was because of Mr. Muro. He would encourage me to better each and every day. He used to tell me that I can do it, that I just have to try. In begging of his class I couldn't make it but after everyday of practicing and him telling these encouraging things I finally got it! I was able to do something that I hadn't been able to do in 2 years of P.E. Even when I wouldnt make the mile on time he would tell me, Great job!’ He said I can really tell you're trying because you face is all red an you got sweat dripping down your face. He said I want to see you like this every time we run.

Before 8th grade was over I had to move schools because my mom told me we were moving away. I told Mr. Muro about this and he told that I was the best best student he had ever had. He said that he wanted to call my mom and personally tell her how great I was and how I had accomplished so much. I felt so proud that day. I will never forget how Mr. Muro helped throughout my journey in P.E. class.

Submitted by: Jada Allen

Teacher: Lieu Nguyen  

Teacher's School: Charles R. Drew Charter High School


I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for my art teacher Ms. Nguyen. I grew up in a family full of visual artist. Two of my brothers were great artists when they were younger but they both kind of fell off when it came to high school. They had great potential. I feel like taking Ms. Nguyen’s class pushed me to keep focusing on my art and making it more than just a fun hobby, but something I can make a career out of. Everyday she always makes me strive for better. She doesn’t compare my abilities with my classmates; she makes sure I’m always doing the best I can do. Over the past three years, I’ve noticed that I constantly get drastically better at my technique as each year goes by. Whenever I feel as though I’m not capable of completing and project, she helps me accomplish what I’d imagine is impossible for me. From my past experiences in class, I learned that I can always do more and I’ve learned to never give up and to keep working towards my goals everyday. I can tell that my work ethic has improved substantially. Now when I have a goal set in my mind, I have the motivation to back it up. I’ve come to a place where I feel confident about my work, and I know this all never would’ve happened if it wasn’t for Ms. Nguyen.

Submitted by: Jasmine

Teacher: Mr. Brady

Teacher's School: Summit leadership academy


When thinking back and remembering all of the teachers that I have had in the past, there is one in particular that comes to mind My favorite teacher’s name is Ms.Brady he taught math at the junior high school. And now at the high school. Mr brady was not the most popular, funniest, hardest, easiest, nicest, nor the meanest teacher. I picked him to write about because. When I start to think about Mr. brady or teachers in general I think about how hard he made me work. But I also think about how he made me challenge myself. Most of all, I remember how he influenced me. he really helped me out with math that I didn't really understand. whenever I didn’t understand something and he really was nice about it and actually helped me. When I don’t know how to do something he will help me understand it way more because he goes into more detail about what we are learning he isn't rude about it and he does it in a way that it's okay to ask questions. Most teachers get annoyed so I never really ask a whole lot of questions but n that class I do because he actually cares to help me all my other math teachers never really taught me never truly learned. Also he is super nice and he is also a very happy person most of the time and isn't very mean all the time. He is my math teacher this year he was also my math teacher last year. We usually get our own time when we are done with all our work and we can basically do are other assignments and he helps us individually with the math if we are struggling. He is very nice and he doesn't make us do really boring stuff so the class is always excited to learn. He hasn't just helped me with math he has taught me that I can do anything I want to do in life, he is great and super supportive and a great role model to young kids he has told the class stories about his past and how he changed from then and now that’s how he is so expiring and i'm happy I had/have him as my math teacher. He coaches also for the boys basketball the reason why I brought that up is because it's for the boys bbut he still allows me and Eileen to play because he knows how we enjoy to play he takes time out of hs day to be there for the students he has a life and work to do but he decided to take time to make a basketball practice time. This is why Mr. Brady is my favorite teacher and how he has helped me and continues to help me everyday.

Submitted by: Sameer Sridhar

Teacher: Mrs. Barraco  


“Alright, critters, make sure you've turned in your homework before we start today's lesson!" These are the words that initiate every class. Some may think that hearing the same thing every day for three years would be monotonous, but for me, it just reaffirms how much Mrs. Barraco cares for her kids.

Having your mind shaped and molded by a figure that you aspire to be like is something that very few, including myself, are lucky to experience; this is how it feels to be Mrs. Barraco’s student. Hearing her speak about ecology and the environment enthralls me, and is what has ignited my passion to become an environmental engineer.

She is able to succinctly articulate her thoughts on our lesson for the day, elaborating on how specific scientific phenomena can be seen in our daily lives. Her mastery and experience with biology and ecology allow us to tap into a mind drenched in expertise.

I could go on and on about what a great educator Mrs. Barraco is, but I think what truly makes her stand out the most is how phenomenal of a human being she is. They say that if someone truly means something to you, you can tell by their actions; it’s the little things that matter. I see this every day in Mrs. Barraco. She always makes sure to put some puns on the cover page of our quizzes and tests to lighten our mood, and never fails to make us laugh by mentioning how she made a My Little Pony imaginary cafe with her daughter the night before. By sharing pieces of her personal life, we have all come to love Mrs. Barraco for the kind, amiable soul she is. This was further solidified earlier this year. Following the school shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, we were all pretty shaken up, as the school was only a few miles away from our own; it could’ve been us. When we walked into Mrs. Barraco’s class, she sat us all down and began to speak. “I can’t help but feel devastated about these events,” she spoke. “If anyone tried to hurt my critters, I just don’t know what I’d do.” As she spoke these words, a single tear rolled down her cheek, a tear filled with compassion and resolve. She ensured that she would always be a friendly face for us to come and talk to, and that she would always make sure our safety came before anything. I had never known a teacher to refer to her students as “friends” and “critters”, much less shed a tear for them, but at that moment there was something I did know: I was extremely lucky to have Mrs. Barraco in my life, and I owe everything to her.

Mrs. Barraco, if you’re reading this, thank you; I don’t say that nearly enough. Thank you for cultivating a love for the environment within me. Thank you for allowing me to grow and diversify in your classroom. Thank you for always greeting me with a smile and reassuring me that everything will be okay.Thank you for letting me discover my favorite My Little Pony: Pinkie Pie. And, finally, thank you for considering me as one of your critters. I appreciate you so much.

Submitted by: Valerie Canales

Teacher: Mrs. Rothman  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Davie


I was in my second year at the school and was starting third grade, which would be my first year doing the FSA. Honestly, I remember being a bit stressed out and nervous that year. Since it was a small school news traveled like wildfire and you often heard remarks about the FSA from the older kids including some pieces of advice. The year before our old third grade teacher was leaving to take care of her soon to be born child so the next year our new teacher was Mrs. Rothman. I met Mrs. Rothman at open house and at first meeting it was clear that she was going to strive to make us work hard. My suspicions were correct, I remember doing a generous amount of practice tests and classwork. One of the big highlight i remember about that year is when she was talking about how grades were important and drew three bubbles one was titled mediocre the other regular and the last excel . Mrs.Rothman told us that you can get in a bad school with just being mediocre and never live up to your potential. She also said that if you just try then you can have an impact on the world with just trying, and that we can be regular or mediocre but it takes real work to excel which will eventually be paid back. That year was hectic, it was about in the middle of the year near Thanksgiving when my best friend moved and left the school,I was a bit dejected but the year kept me busy. That year was a series of ups and downs,but Mrs.Rothman was an excellent teacher.That year she taught me that you can never give up and to be strong.That was a very impactful year that I will never forget.

Submitted by: Christine Zarut

Teacher: Linda Askari  

Teacher's School: Royal Palm Elementary - Miami, FL


As I reflect on my fifteen year of teaching and seek where my influences were, I have to look back at my schooling as a child. You see, teaching was not just a career choice for me, it’s a calling…something that I take very seriously. Each morning, before I begin the day in my classroom, I hope to be the teacher that I want my own three children to have – caring, compassionate, knowledgeable, engaging.

As a fifth grade student at Royal Palm Elementary, Linda Askari was pure joy! I can vividly remember reading Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia Maclachlan and creating a diorama of the farm. After reading The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman we created our own medieval fair in class. I remember pressing flowers into wax paper to sell. To teach us how to write a letter, we ate Smart Food white cheddar popcorn and wrote letters to the manufacturer expressing our love of their product. One lesson found us eating Oreos, eating an apple, and then counting each other’s teeth to see how many were cleaned. Most of all I recall the profound impact reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli aloud. She would record our reading sessions, so that if we were ever absent, we could borrow the cassette tape and a cassette player and listen to it at home. I can still recall her voice. She also cared deeply about the school community. Being a Title I school, not many children had books at home or someone who could read to them each night. She started a lending library in her classroom of books on tape. Us, her students, would read into the cassette recorders. There were times that I would write down her ideas and games.

Once, she caught me writing down the directions to a game we were about to play. She asked me what I was doing. I told her I was taking notes for when I was a teacher one day. Fast forward years later…I have been a proud educator for fifteen years with a Masters in Reading Education and a National Board Certified teacher in Early/Middle Childhood Literacy. Each year, I read Maniac Magee with my students cry when my class gets to the part when Grayson passes away. Mrs. Askari was my positive influence. I would not be the teacher I am today, if I hadn’t had her as my fifth grade teacher.

Submitted by: Tyler Llerandi

Teacher: Jennifer Childers  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Bay - Miami


A teacher that had a positive difference in my life is Mrs. Childers. She taught me that if someone is calling you name sand pushing you around, then I’m happy to talk to that person privately after class and if someone is saying negative things about you, just ignore it as long as you’re confident in yourself. She does not let name calling pass in her class which refers to bullying. If you’re struggling she’s always there to help you. She will push you to the limit. Even though we didn’t see her for the rest of the year. I was waiting for her to come back. It was kind of sad that she was gone! But, when she came back, she brightened the day and the year. Also when she came back she made you feel good and confident about yourself. She was good moral support for the years. She inspired me to try hard and to never give up. She’s a great influence on me and not just me, other students too. Whoever is in second grade…in third grade you’re going to have a great teacher. She will be a little hard on you, but that is only to make you better. She picks out really long and good books to read. She gives you good essays to write about. Like animals and sometimes she would put on movies. Mrs. Childers is a very caring person. She did this donation on October 10th, where kids at our school have to donate costumes, new/used, and candy to a place called Brownsville. It’s a place where a lot of people that live there don’t have any money for those kind of things. Mrs. Childers was an inspiration to me, how about you?

Submitted by: Cecilia de Solo

Teacher: Mrs. Lee  

Teacher's School: Kenwood Elementary School - Miami, FL


Have you had a teacher who made a positive difference in your life? I have! Her name is Mrs. Lee. She was my pre-k teacher, in Kenwood Elementary. Every day in kinder, I would visit her. She was the best! Reason to know how she made a difference in my life.

For example, in pre-l every morning I had to write my name…well, trace it. After doing that it gave me amazing hand writing. Now when I write, I love it! Sometimes when I write I love it. Sometimes when I write all I think of is her and of course what I am writing about. In kinder, when I visited her I helped her dismissing her students. My aunt work with her, so I can talk to her, she says she wishes I come back to the school.

In addition, in her class we would go over the ABC. Then she would do story time. The only thing is that last year I was saying the ABC’s all wrong. Halloween with her was amazing, we would be taking so many pictures together. I remember when she came to my house she saw my vocabulary, it was very small. But, when I started my classes my dad said I was amazing, I could say some words other couldn’t’. With all the positivity she gave me, it was amazing!

In conclusion, Mrs. Lee from Kenwood, made a positive difference in my life. She was and probably still is an amazing teacher. When you know you have an amazing teacher, she/he is there by your side. When she put movies on for naptime, you would still learn from them. She was excellent!"

Submitted by: Kaia Zohlman

Teacher: Kelli de la Rionda  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Bay - Miami


I have had many teachers in my life, but there is one teacher that has influenced me in many ways. She was my fifth grade reading teacher. She has influenced me to be myself and to go for the big things. She always understands me weather it’s good, or bad. She has helped me understand everything I didn’t understand. Even though she was my teacher, she was like a friend to me.

One way that she has influenced me is when we were going an in-class project. We worked in groups and one day after we all went home the cleaning people accidently put our project in the trash, because it had fallen on the floor. We had to redo our project in 20 minutes. She influenced us to do it because she believed in us.

Another way that she has influenced me is when I hurt myself really bad she believed in me to get back up again. She is always there for me. If I did not understand a problem, she would always help me. She always encouraged me to go for my dream. She was also the best writing teacher as well. She helped me with all of my writing problems.

She is one of the best teachers I have had ever. She is very understanding. She is there when you need her the most. She is very loyal. She is responsible. She is very kind. She is compassionate. She has a lot of courage. She has a lot of heart. She is not only kind to me but kind to everyone. Everyone loved her. You can relate to her. She’s not strict but she can be if you get on her nerves. If you do not get on her nerves you will be just fine. She is the all-around best teacher!

Submitted by: Ruben Hernandez

Teacher: Jennifer Espinel  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Bay - Miami, FL


The teacher who made a positive difference in my life is my kindergarten teacher and my third grade math and science teacher, Mrs. Espinel. She has helped me because she be me my positive attitude. She helped me when my grades were low because she knows I’m a straight A student. When Mrs. Espinel got me out of a friend group which got detentions almost every other week, that is the reason I’ve never gotten a detention. She was there for me when my great grandma died. I was so sad, I didn’t even do my work and when Mrs. Espinel noticed she cheered me up with silly things she has done and she had told me she had been through the same situation. She gave me candy and I was the first one to finish all of my assignments. She was also very hands on because she would come up to all of us and see if we had any questions or issues. She wouldn’t just help me in math or science. She would also help me in reading, English, and social studies. Those are some of the reasons why Mrs. Espinel positively helped me.

Submitted by: Kenan Brown

Teacher: Jennifer Childers  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Bay - Miami, FL


I have had a teacher who has made a positive impact. It was my third grade teacher Mrs. Childers. She always guided me when I was having trouble or stuck. She would guide me and the class through our lessons, homework, tests, spelling, and vocabulary words. She had a hug bookshelf with lots of books. She had great advice, great excitement, and was super funny. She taught me tricks to help me remember things. She taught me tricks to never give up no matter what size or strength, or challenges I have. She taught me to stay humble when times get tough. She also taught me not to let other people push me around or change my opinion. She taught me not to let people push me around.

Submitted by: Sebastian Sarquis

Teacher: Vivi Sarquis  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Bay - Miami, FL


I have had a teacher assistant who made a positive difference in my life. Her name is Vivi Sarquis and she is my mom. She was an assistant teacher for my first grade teacher, Mrs. Calado. My mom made a positive difference in my life and I will tell you now!

She made a positive influence in my life because she would always help me whenever I didn’t understand anything. She would also make things seem funny even if they weren’t. I remember one time when I felt sad, she told me something. That something was, “No matter what happens to you, you will always find a way to get over it.” It made a positive difference because when I hurt myself, I remembered what she said and found a positive way to deal with it.

Another way was that in school she would always come to my classroom and ask me if I was ok. I said what I needed to and then she left. Every time she asked I thought it was annoying until once when I wasn’t ok she helped me get over it.

Those are way, Vivi Sarquis, my mom, has made a positive difference in my life.

Submitted by: Isabella Canizares

Teacher: Mrs. Patricia  

Teacher's School: Diego Olvera Estrada - Mexico


Teachers are part of your life, you spend half of your day with them. When I was in third grade I was being bullied because of my appearance. One of my teachers noticed that I was having a hard time because almost every week I was in the office because those girls made fake accusations. Once my teacher called me to her classroom and asked me what was happening and I told her everything. She told me that I shouldn’t care about what they said to me, that I don’t need to hear mean opinions from others because the acceptance started in me, that the only one that should care about how I look is me. Her speech really helped me and it made me think about all these mean things that they told me and it made me have more confidence and self-love. Once everything that had happened came out the girls were suspended. This teacher always will stay in my heart and life because she was the one that changed me. So, always remember the acceptance starts with you and you should always thank your teachers for the help they gave. Her name was Mrs. Patricia and the school was Diego Olvera Estrada in Mexico.

Submitted by: Thomas Zarut

Teacher: Jennifer Childers  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Bay


One teacher who has made a positive difference in my life is Mrs. Childers! Throughout kindergarten to second grade, I thought every teacher was nice, would never get mad at us. Then when I went to third grade, everything changed. Mrs. Childers was super strict! I remember one day going to school I started crying so bad my mom thought something happened to me. When I told her how Mrs. Childers was, my brother heard me and since he had her the year before he said that Mrs. Childers is strict but funny and fun. After that, I realized that I can’t be the “class clown”. Later, I started seeing the good in her and that she was just trying to prepare me for my future teachers later on. She also taught me that teachers aren’t your friends. Soon enough we were playing basketball in the room and listening to music! She is and forever will be my favorite teacher and the teacher that taught me the biggest lesson. Teachers are not your friend, but they just want the best for you no matter what. Mrs. Childers is the best teacher ever on the planer.

Submitted by: Dane Pennington

Teacher: Mrs. Rasner  

Teacher's School: Sycamore Valley Academy



The teacher that helped me the most is Mrs. Rasner. She made it fun to go to school and help me learn when I came back to school. On 2015 I was not happy to go to the place where we were going to be bored out of our mind for two years, but I was happy to see the teacher was new here and happy to see us all through. The two years I was with Mrs. Rasner she was helping the school being at events help being at field trips and much more. Even when I´m not in 3 or 4 grade I still see her at swim helping the coaches with the events and trips. Now I´m in 6th grade and the kids from her classroom go in to the class sit down and is ready to start the day.

Mrs. Rasner is still going to trips, her son Thomas and two daughters are in our classroom. We are still hanging out with them by going on trips and having a blast.

The time I had been with her we found some stuff about each other like how she doesn't like snakes but I do and how I don't like pizza. We had a idea we made a deal, the deal was I eat a slice of pizza and she had to hold my snake. We were both nervous but at the end of the year party at David’s house we did it. The pizza wasn’t that bad, but it was time for her end of the deal she came to my house but my mom gave a glove for her. She had to hold the snake for a minute, but right when the snake moved it head past her thumb she screams and moved her hand as quick as she cord. This event made it feel like I know the teacher I still see her. To this day we still make fun of this moment. Mrs. Rasner made it fun to be at school and learn and this is why I think Mrs. Rasner is the best."

Submitted by: Nayely Reyes

Teacher: Ms. Alejandra Yado  

Teacher's School: Sycamore Valley Academy


If you're reading this letter it’s because I entered a competition on who's my favorite teacher, and I choose Ms. Alejandra Yado. I wrote this letter to thank her for everything that she has done to help me grow. Without her, I would’ve never known the things that I know now, and I always knew I was never alone because she was always there for me.

I loved that even when I had no one to talk to at recess, she was always talking to me asking me how my day was. She always believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself. She was always there and I appreciate that.

Whenever I went on stage or presented something, she cheered me on with my mom. Ms. Yado and my mom really got along together. My mom has really learned a lot from Ms. Yado, too. I liked that sometimes she played with me at recess and would invite me to eat lunch with her.

For her first year of teaching, she nailed it! I really miss her and being in her classroom since she was my favorite teacher. I respect her,and everything I did with her is a special memory to me.My mom and I really owe it all to her for teaching us everything. Every day I think about her and how she is just really magnificent.

When I was in her class I just really remember everything in there. It was just “wow!” She always made people laugh and she'd always show her love. She'd always come with some odd clothes and she didn’t care what people thought about her. I learned that from her. I really hope you like this letter about my favorite teacher, Miss Yado!

Sincerely, Nayely Reyes

Sycamore Valley Academy

Visalia, California

Submitted by: Patricia Gonzalez

Teacher: Mr. Abner  

Teacher's School: Pathways to College


In memory of Mr. Abner

Ever since I was a little girl, I have loved going to school. I like learning new things, my teachers were patient with me, caring, and in a way I guess they were always there for me. I am thankful for all of my teachers, but if I had to chose who has impacted my life the most it would have to be Mr. Will Abner. I was never really bad at math, but he made me excel in that subject. Math and science were my favorite subjects and still are. He always found a way to make class interesting. Mr. Abner was my 7th and 8th grade teacher, now I am a junior in high school, it is insane how fast time goes by, I remember he always had a smile on his face even if his day was not as good as he had anticipated. There was not ever a day where he did not smile or laugh. He impacted my life so crazy I am sure he did not even know. In 7th grade my math level was where it needed to be. Before first semester ended in 8th grade my math level was at 11th grade. He taught me how to smile through the pain, and that in the end everything will be okay. Mr. Abner had such an enormous heart I am extremely grateful that I had the chance to meet such a wonderful teacher. As a 13 year old girl his death affected me more than anything, He was taken from the world at such a young age, he was 35, he still had a long life ahead of him. He was so full of life, his happiness brought the class joy. Mr. Abner just had a way of teaching that was so unique, where he actually made a difference with all the kids he had in his classes. He cared about each and everyone of us. The quote on his gravestone is “ the mountains are calling and I must go”, he loved hiking.

Submitted by: Kat Hoverman

Teacher: Mr. Medvidik  

Teacher's School: The Arts and College Preparatory Academy


Submitted by: Kyle Merchant

Teacher: Ms. Shirley Rayburn 

Teacher's School: Pembroke Pines Charter Middle School


My story begins here, in Georgia. My family had just moved to Albany from Florida, and I was nervous. I had never been to another state before, but I was also leaving my relatives in Florida behind. I was afraid that things would be different than back in Florida. When we had just begun moving in, I decided to take a look in the apartment. My sister, who was just a small baby at the time, got to stay in the bedroom near the front of the apartment, while I stayed in the bedroom near the backyard. Since I have been playing piano for such a long time, my parents wanted to enroll me in piano classes in Georgia. We ended up choosing a sweet old woman named Ms. Shirley. I took my piano lessons in a high school classroom after school was out and the students left. I wouldn't realize until later how big of an influence Ms. Shirley was on me. Whenever I came to class, Ms. Shirley would ask me to brief her on the day's events. I would tell her everything I did from in the morning, to after school. Ms. Shirley was so kind, and would even sit and listen to my woe's and conflicts. Then she would console me and suggest solutions. Ms. Shrley was an amazing pianist, her fingers moved across the piano with such poise and grace. I prayed that I would be able to play like her one day. Sadly, she did not really get a lot to work with. All she was provided was a small afterschool room with an old piano, even so, she made use with what she had. Ms. Shirley taught me so much during my time with her. She inspired me to follow my passion for music and to become a great pianist. After two years of living in Georgia, my parents decided to move back to Florida. Ms. Shirley was so sad to lose one of her students, I was upset that I would have to find another music teacher. I wished we could have stayed, or that Ms. Shirley could have come with us. However, those are just puerile fantasies. Ms. Shirley was such a large influence in my life, I will never forget her. If only she could see me today playing for my church and possibly for the hospital, but I know that she has high hopes for me, so I need to make her proud.

Submitted by: Leilani Kalil

Teacher: Mrs. Jessenia Andrade  

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Elementary Pembroke Pines


Have you ever had an awesome teacher that cares for everything you do? Because I did, and her name is Mrs. Jessenia Andrade. In that year I met the most wonderful and beautiful teacher ever. When I was in first grade I was so lucky to have Mrs. Andrade. She taught me so many things. She taught me Math, Reading, science, social studies and much more. She is an intelligent and awesome teacher. She always makes class exciting and fun. Mrs. Andrade makes us feel loved every day. When we come to school in the morning she always does handshakes or gives us a hug. When we leave in the afternoon, she always says “see you tomorrow” with a smile on her face. She never gets tired of explaining things over and over if we don’t understand, she makes sure that at the end of the day, everyone understands.

I also love Mrs. Andrade because she speaks English and Spanish. She also makes me practice my Spanish in class with her.Mrs. Andrade is so sweet because if someone is having a bad day, she worries about them, gives them a hug and makes them feel better.

She is the most patient teacher in this world. Mrs. Andrade is so fun too, she dresses up for Spirt day and for the October parade.

Mrs. Andrade always smells so nice, like a flower. I love Mrs. Andrade because she is always smiling. I like how she chooses “Student of the Month”. She is so pretty and has a beautiful eyes, she is fun, super cool, nice, patient, respectful, friendly, kind and always cares for all her students. She always makes us laugh and always teaches us something new and interesting every day. I love Mrs. Andrade because she doesn’t give us homework on weekends. This gives me more time to spend with my family. I thank her because she taught me a lot and made sure I moved on to second grade.I nominate Mrs. Andrade because no matter where I am or where I go, I will never forget all she has done for me and my friends.

Submitted by: Renan Antonio Vega

Teacher: Mrs. Moreno  

Teacher's School: Pinecrest Cove Preperatory Academy Miami


One teacher that had a large impact on my life was Mrs. Moreno she was my teacher in 2nd, 3rd ,and 5th . She was an amazing teacher. She would make learning fun and she had a way of teaching that really helped me understand the things she taught. Reading which was where I had more difficulty in she would always help me no matter what it was and she would always put up with my nonsense. One thing I really liked about her was that she cared about her students and what they got on their test. She inspired me to read more and also be more settle in class. I also really liked that she was always nice to her students and me and was just very fun in general. She would always joke with us and make reading fun. I use to never like reading but when I first got to her class and she taught reading I told myself that reading was now one of my favorite subjects in school. Mrs. Moreno was also one of my favorite teachers in my school years. She also helped me get A’s in her class. One thing I loved in her classes were the cold reads and when she taught language arts she made language arts easy for me and to this day I love language arts and I am really good thanks to her. Another thing I loved in her class was the essays because she would always give us interesting things to write about and which I always loved and always got good grades on them. She knew how to teach them in a way that everyone including me would understand. So this is why Mrs. Moreno had a big impact on my life, thanks.

Submitted by: Caitlynn Molina

Teacher: Mr.Trujillo  


A teacher that has really impacted me is Mr.Trujillo. Before he became a teacher at summit, he was a substitute many times for different classes last year. Mr.Trujillo first became my substitute for biology for a while because my teacher was off due to her pregnancy. My grade went up dramatically not because hes a nice person but because he taught me very good where i can understand and actually do my work. He then became my substitute for math class which i had an F in , math happens to be the hardest subject for me, its very hard for me to understand. Once again my learning got better in math and my grade. After having him as a substitute for those subjects he also was my sub for world history and english. So he has really impacted me because i think its so awsome how he has all this knowledge for all kinds of subjects, and i think thats a good talent. Also its very hard for me to learn and Mr.Trujillo has a way of teaching to where i can understand and comprehend everything he teaches. I hope that one day in the future i will too know a lot of knowledge and i know i can because Mr.Trujillo has shown me its possible and you can do anything you put your mind to .

Submitted by: Myles Norton

Teacher: Mr Robinett  

Teacher's School: Summit leadership Academy


Throughout the past couple of weeks at Summit Leadership Academy I have came across many teachers. Throughout all my teachers the one that has academically impacted my life the most so far is Mr. Robinett. Mr. Robinett has academically helped impact my life academically a lot more than my english teacher last year. The main way has helped me academically is by actually giving work throughout the week, many teachers do not give you any work which leads to you not knowing how to do what you are learning in class. This can later affect you in the long run because you are basically not learning anything. Another way he has academically impacted my life is by having us read books on a daily basis, although I am not the best reader I feel as though being forced/encouraged to read on a daily basis can greatly improve your vocabulary and speech which is a huge part of life. Another thing that Mr.Robinett has done that impacted the whole school is starting a christian club. I feel as though this is a very good way for people who have something in common or for people who are interested in that topic to be able to communicate with one another and learn from one another. I feel as though this club may not only impact me personally but may impact other people who are curious about the main topics of the club. overall I would say Mr Robinett has academically impacted my life a lot more than any other teacher has that I have had due to him actually making you learn what you need to learn and not letting you fly by the whole entire year by not doing any work but still getting a good grade. So I think him doing this has made me learn to not procrastinate and finish my work on time.

Submitted by: Dylan Hay

Teacher: Mr. Robinett  

Teacher's High School: Summit Leadership Academy High Desert


Throughout my years of going to school, I have never really had a teacher that understood me, that acknowledged me, a teacher who impacted me. I never connected to school at all or had ever wanted to go to school. I have recently transferred schools for my junior year and I met a teacher that unnoticeably impacted me. This teacher is Mr. Robinett my English teacher, without intention he has impacted me drastically. Mr. Robinett taught me how to manage my time wisely and taught me to not procrastinate nor to give an elder a problem. I started the school year with not much knowledge of how to manage time wisely and had no respect for myself. I never would have thought to join a Christian club but I gave it a chance and Mr. Robinett made the club appeal, my family makes anything religious seem like a chore but Mr. Robinett explained that his Christian club will be a community and not seem like work. I have always taken education for granted, I never thought I would apply myself because I never had a teacher who made me. Mr. Robinett made me hungry for education by allowing me to see the legitimate side of hard work and responsibilities. Mr. Robinett is a great teacher who pushes his student to success. He always keeps his word, if I was to ask him if he would be in his class after lunch he would be in his class. He doesnt shy away from a student with a problem in which most cases majority if teachers do. In conclusion I belive Mr. Robinett has academically impacted my education more so than anyone else has. Due to his outreaching and positive attitude he has brought me to care a lot about my education and allowed to reflect on my past attitude towards school.

Submitted by: Eileen Cardenas

Teacher: Mr. Murillo  

Teacher's School: Summit leadership Academy


Victor Murillo was a teacher at Summit leadership Academy, Mr. Murillo always had a smile on his face no matter if he was having a bad day. I had Mr. Murillo for first period, he taught leadership and the first time I was in his class I had the mentality of there's no way I will ever want to be in the military. I pretty positive I gave him a headache most of the times, but he would always just listen. I, at times had problems at home and I would act different and he would notice, he would ask me what was wrong but I never really told him. Now i'm a couple months in school and I start having problems with my family, he asked me if I was okay. At that moment he became the only teacher I really trusted to talk to. He was always there for me, it kind of felt like he was the only one who really believed in me. When I would get in arguments with anyone and I felt like no one was there for me, he would just give me advice. Advice that would just make me think about what I have and that the things that are happening now won't matter in the future. Like I was saying I had the mentality that I could never be in the military or that the military was only for guys. He started to talk about the benefits about being in the military, and I started to really get interested in the military. However I hope that one day I will be able to protect our country, because now I see what they do. Thank you to Mr, Murillo for having the biggest impact in my life, I am very happy I met him my freshman year. I prayed to see him this year at summit again, but he has moved. Where ever he is I hope he can impact other people's lives like he impacted mine.

Submitted by: Ashton Call

Teacher: Mr. Justin Rash

Teacher's School: Caprock Academy High School

Submitted by: Daniela Campos

Teacher: Mrs. Bennett

Teacher's School: Quail Valley Middle School


My overall favorite teacher would be my seventh grade teacher because she inspired me in many ways. Her name was Miss. Bennett. She was a math teacher at Quail Valley Middle School. She doesn’t work there anymore but I would like to thank her for making me fall in love with math. I wasn’t a huge fan in math at all. I didn’t suck at it, but I just didn’t like the words math problems that they give you. She change my view on math by encouraging everyone in the classroom and supporting them in any way. She would go out of her way to make sure that everyone in the classroom pass. Even the whole kids at the school loved her. She was a very likeable person that would brighten up your day, if you were having a bad day.

The way how she made me fall in love with math was the way how she teach it and explain it. At the same time she kind of made me wanna be a math teacher when i grew up, but that’s not what i wanna be now. She just really packed my feelings for math. Without her I wouldn’t really like math at all and I would probably wouldn’t try to do any of my math homework. A lot people says why do you like math at all? I mostly say because I’m very good at it and I have a passion for it. Whenever I go to my school, I just can’t wait to go to my math classroom and learn new things. It’s my favorite subject out of my whole class schedule. This is not only reason why she’s my favorite teacher because yeah she did a lot of things that made me fall in love with math, but that isn’t the whole reason why. The number one reason why she’s my favorite teacher is because the way how she care about everyone in her classroom and the patience that she had for everyone else.

Submitted by: Caylaa Makimaa

Teacher: Ms. Katie  

Teacher's School: May Sands Montessori


Hello! The teacher I would like to recognize today is my teacher Ms. Katie. Ms. Katie has taught me grades fourth through sixth (I am currently in sixth) in math, culture, and language. I look up to her very much because she dedicates so much of her time to making sure that everyone (including me) has what they need to be successful. She is on of the most hardworking person I know and I hope to be as hardworking as her someday! She has inspired me in so many ways like influencing my love of learning, especially math (my personal favorite subject ☺) and she has gotten me where I need to be (academically) so I can be challenged and show confidence in what I am turning in. I would not be where I am (academically) without her support as a teacher! ☺ Ms. Katie has helped me step out of my comfort zone and experience things that i would not of if she had not helped me out of my shell. Ms. Katie has inspired me so much it is hard to put it in words but she is flat out the best teacher ever☺!!!!!!!!!!! Ms. Katie has helped me to (at least start) following my dreams and I am very thankful for her to be my teacher. she has inspired me to do so many things like go to S.T.E.M. camp and just simple things like doing my problems for fun (I know it sounds weird but it really is fun).

In closing, Ms. Katie has inspired me in my love of math, feeling comfortable and confident in the classroom and just in life, and has inspired me and helped me to come out of my shell. These things are all true and Ms. Katie is truly amazing and I would not be the person I am today without her support. Thank you for reading what I had to say about a wonderful teacher of mine and i hope that you think that she is as amazing as I know she is. THE END."

Submitted by: Cassie and Austin Eads

Teacher: Mr. Alan Kingsley  

Teacher's School: SCVI charter school in Castaic Ca.


Submitted by: Cristian Alicea

Teacher: Caridad Broche  

Teacher's School: Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy


Touching Lives one Student at a Time

Have you ever felt the warmth of a smile, or the genuine love from a hug? Imagine having that for THREE years in a row- now imagine being in third grade and you just finished the school year, summer passes by quickly and next thing you know you are in fourth grade- you are growing and are worried about tests, quizzes and other students. Little did you know this was going to be the year that has the best teacher you will ever have. This was me in fourth grade, I had Mrs. Broche and she changed my life for the better. She has been the best teacher I have ever had and has also changed my way of thinking through life’s moments.

One of the many things Mrs. Broche has done to help me is to support me while I was going through the passing of a loved one. I spent the first 9 years of my life with my grandma- she taught me the importance of everything and was my best friend. I woke up one day to realize that in the room next door she had suddenly passed away. I did not know what to do- or how to react, but I knew that I had to tell one person, Mrs. Broche. When I told her she hugged me and talked to me and listened to me, she gave me a warm smile and told me that my grandma would always be with me and that now I was her grandson. I never thought that a teacher would be able to help me through one of the most difficult moments in my life, but I was so thankful for her help and how she knew the right words to say to help me go through them.

Mrs. Broche also showed me how to prioritize, my Mom is thankful for that, she taught me that is important to have fun, but you first need to work hard. During class we would have to work hard writing essays and completing group projects- but the games followed. Every year with her she showed me the importance of not complaining about bookwork, because then we would be able to do projects with our friends- and she sometimes even let us talk in class. In the end, she has shown me many things that help us every day and will continue to help us in the future.

Lastly, A teacher that truly cares is hard to find but Mrs. Broche has taught me to never give up on my dreams, she continues to teach me still today in 6th grade and goes above and beyond to make sure that I am learning. She makes sure that I am successful and cheers me on even during the toughest school days. The best part is that Mrs. Broche has always been there for me, since I first met her- and she continues to be there. She has cheered me up and made me happy in times of sadness. She has also changed the way I see the most important things in my life and has proven to me that I need to work hard to achieve my dreams. I have been very lucky to have felt the warmth of a smile, and the genuine love from a hug- and you know what, if you meet Mrs. Broche, you might be able to feel that way too!

Submitted by: Carson Collins

Teacher: Mrs.Grimm

Teacher's School: Carolina International School


My name is Carson and my story starts as so…

Throughout middle school math was never my strongest subject, in fact i barely remember any of the lessons i was taught. But when i got to high school things started getting a whole lot harder, soon math was my weakest subject was without a doubt. Math 1 presented a whole new of math that i had no idea what i was doing and still i am unsure on how i passed that class with no lower than a D. at that time and a little later i was perfectly contempt with just a D if it just meant i was able to pass. At math 2 is where i struggled the most, with the only thing i can remember learning at all was the quadratic formula. And at the end of the year i tried to pick up my act and try to turn in my work and such. Throughout my 10th grade i made the stupid decision to try and not do homework at all and it cost me big time since this year i am taking math 2 again (luckily with a new teacher) because i failed it the first time. After 10th grade the school for some reason decided to move me to math 3 even though i failed it the year before but i'm so thankful that did since i got a new teacher, Mrs. Grimm. At first i was skeptical and was all “ughh another math class” but after a couple days i realized this was my best math teacher i’ve had yet. For the first time ever all the stuff i was taught in math 2 finally made sense to me and above all math made sense to me. I was very happy that this would be the first time ever i could pass a class without worry. Besides math making sense to me for once, I also discovered for the first time how i learn math the easiest. She teaches in a way that tries to make sure everyone understands it, whether that means finding a new method, writing or talking in a different way or letting students explain their methods and seeing if they work. For the first i was willing to raise my hand to go up to the board and work out the warm up and such. And now that I’m in math 2 again, it's easier than ever thanks to everything I learned in Mrs. Grimm’s class

Submitted by: Dakota Jacobsen

Teacher: Ms. Grimm

Teacher's School: Carolina International School


The teacher that has made a positive impact in my life has been Ms. Grimm, and the reason she has made a positive impact in my life is because of how she has gone out of her way for the whole senior class. She has done this by setting up our senior trip which will be a cruise to the Bahamas. She has gone out of her own way because she has jumped through so many hoops and is willing to keep pushing no matter how much we have been there to help or not been able to. While she was beginning to work on getting us a cruise she had to go into the hospital for emergency surgery but even while she was recovering she found a way in order to keep getting everything we needed done. Now that the cruise is set up she has started to look into fundraisers in order to make the price cheaper for us to go on the cruise so that everyone can go. She has set up fundraisers such as our Fall Festival where she has invited vendors to come so they can sell their products. She has also spent one of her Saturdays at the University of North Carolina Charlotte in order to walk around their vendor fair so try and invite vendors to come to our vendor fair. Ms. Grimm being our senior advisor has gone above and beyond by fighting for our senior privileges. She was able to get the entire senior class to be able to have lunch together and we now have a microwave and coffee machine available for us to use. She also pushed for other privileges for us to have even though we didn’t get them she has shown how much she cares about us because she was willing to push so much because that’s what we wanted even though the principle said it was almost impossible. Ms. Grimm pushed and fought for us enough that we have the opportunity to earn those privileges if the entire senior class is able to comply with what the rules are now we may be able to have those privileges. So even though I have only been at this school for a little over a month Ms. Grimm has had a huge impact on my life already.

Submitted by: Cierra Saunders

Teacher: Mrs. Johnson


Mrs.Johnson helped me when I didn't understand anything in my classes. She helped me with some emotional problems. She was very patient and kind as well.

Submitted by: Dennis Ehlers

Teacher: Ms.Ihme

Teacher's School: Greenville Technical Charter High School/ Math


Ms.Ihme is a new teacher at my school, and she has made my life better. At first I did not like her, and sometimes still don't, but if you look at her she actually trying to help. I don't do well in her class, and she offers me extra help, and does everything to help me in her class. She is one of the teacher that most students don't like her just because she is new. So I want her to win so that every student can see that she is awesome.

Submitted by: Kobe Roston

Teacher: Jim Pusateri  

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy


Last year was a really difficult one for me. I had faced many hardships with living accommodations and further emotional stress as a result of huge family tragedies that would’ve plagued me much longer if not for the help of one teacher.

It’s always hard when you lose love ones and it can cause you to withdraw from yourself and school without really noticing or caring. You feel as if the world is just a burden as you will eventually lose all loved ones and it seems like a horrid place of sadness and pain. At least, that's what I fell victim too and there is no doubt in my mind that it would’ve been what had ruined my high school grades and chances getting into a top notch college if not for one teacher.

This teacher saw what I was going through and helped me dig myself out of the hole I had fallen in. The belief and passion I was confronted with was more than enough to change anyone’s day. The level at which this teacher valued their students was amazing and you could truly feel they cared and that you weren’t another student and above all, the teacher always made sure everyone had got what was being taught. The compassion and importance that they had upon their job had radiated throughout everyone in the class and even I had begun to feel this. Yet, even after all they did each and everyday this wasn’t the end of their willingness to help their students it was just an everyday thing that had always improved everyones’ day.

This teacher had taught and showed me that even with the ups and downs in life there are more ups, and with their help I was able to finally reclaim the person I used to be which had gone away for awhile.

Submitted by: Kale Dohrman

Teacher: Mr. Berndt  

Teacher's School: Caprock Academy


Many people affect our lives in different ways as time passes by; most of which we do not remember. The people that can critically change our lives the most are often forgotten. We must not allow this to happen to teachers, especially those who go above and beyond in the classroom; creating a better experience and environment for students. One of these figures in my life is Mr. Berndt, my school’s Algebra II teacher. Last year, my original math teacher unexpectedly quit her job, so my school was in desperate need for a replacement. At first, Mr. Berndt was a substitute; although that did not stop him from creating a fun learning environment. As time passed, Mr. Berndt grew closer to each of his students, and made Algebra II the class I looked forward to daily. He always made sure that everyone knew the material before moving on to more advanced subjects—greatly improving the class’s average on tests. Halfway through the year, Mr. Berndt was offered and accepted a job to permanently teach math at Caprock Academy. Mr. Berndt remains a math teacher at my school, and is a role model to tall of the students that attend it.

Without Mr. Berndt I would not be nearly as advanced at math as I am now. Last year, I initially struggled with the material. No matter how much time I spent at home researching and reading the textbook, I could not wrap my head around certain aspects of the lessons. However, Mr. Berndt became our teacher; and everything changed for the better. Mr. Berndt would take time after class to work with me and several other students, and we understood Algebra so much more because of him. I went from being one of the lowest in my class to getting an A on the final exam; and all because of Mr. Berndt. It was through him that I understood the value of making time for others, and assisting people who struggle. He is a great man and a joy to his students.

Submitted by: Evan Grim

Teacher: Ms. Lewis  

Teacher's School: PA Distance Learning Charter School


Throughout my time in school, many teachers have inspired me. However, Ms. Lewis at PA Distance Learning Charter School stands to be the most inspiring teacher I have ever had. She alone has opened my eyes up to so many new things and has allowed me to learn so much in only a year.

Ms. Lewis was my 9th-grade English. Before I attended her class, I merely tolerated literature. I would much rather have watched something on Netflix or played a video game, but when I took her class, it made me realize that literature was something that could not be ignored. I developed a passion for reading books I never thought I would even pick up let alone enjoy. She gave me such positive reinforcement of my writing, I started to enjoy writing and reading more than I ever did. I had never looked at writing as something enjoyable; I looked at it as a chore. It was something that you had to learn because you needed to function in society, but she taught me that it can be enjoyed.

I had never really received a lot of positive reinforcement from teachers on my papers, so I fell into the tailspin of “I’m not good at this. Why even try?” Something as small as Ms. Lewis saying I had a nice thesis, or that I effectively stated my point gave me a tremendous amount of confidence and made me want to write more. With this want to write more, developed into wanting to read more. My writing improved dramatically over the 9th-grade, and I have finally become more confident. With my new found confidence Ms. Lewis ask me to tutor writing in 10th-grade. I felt like this was an honor because she felt my writing was good enough and that I could inspire and help other students. I truly understand when people say that they want to give back. I would like to give the gift of inspiration to someone the way Ms. Lewis did for me.

Ms. Lewis is one of those special teachers that you read about that changes peoples lives. I can’t believe how lucky I was to have been placed in her class in this time in my life. We all have turning points in our life that make us into the person we want to be when we grow up. I’ll never forget the kindness she showed me. Ms. Lewis is the best teacher I have ever had.

Submitted by: Mahasti Shahidi

Teacher: Professor Ada Lou Carson

Teacher's School: Ferris State University


Many years ago as I was pursuing a degree in Pharmacy, it was required of students to take a class called Literature for Pharmacy Students. After studying dry and dreary subjects like Anatomy & Physiology, Organic Chemistry and Calculus, this Literature course was a welcome reprieve from the abstract and impersonal science courses. I am aware that many students have tremendous passion for the biological and chemical sciences, but my mind wanted to explore creative avenues and get lost in literature, reading and writing. So this is where my story begins. I was supposed to be a pharmacist, but it was too boring and it did not captivate my heart. My English teacher, Professor Ada Lou Carson pointed out that I had a keen literary mind coupled with intense interest for learning literature, and therefore, should pursue the arts, especially the field of English. She could tell that I had a passion for writing, reading and speaking. She taught me the basics of writing essays, analyzing literature, business writing, editing and revising material, and employing strong word choice when trying to grab the attention of the reader. Professor Ada Lou Carson was my mentor and hero in the field of education. Instead of preparing me to be a pharmaceutical writer, she influenced me to be a teacher. Soon afterwards, I received my Bachelor's of Arts in Literature and a Master's of Arts in Teaching from Wayne State University. I quickly secured a teaching job in a private school located in an affluent suburban area. I worked there for thirteen years when I finally decided it was time to take my knowledge and experience and move forward into administration. Initially, I pursued administration with very little success; I continued to observe and learn from my principal the elements necessary to lead a school, attended many workshops, worked very hard to be the best classroom teacher, mentor teacher, and teacher leader. My principal left our school after eight years, and I knew it was time for me to move on. I had taught seventeen years in the same school, and I felt confident that I could lead a school building. Low and behold, the opportunity fell into my lap when my former principal called me one day and said that her school-- located in an urban area that services at-risk students was looking for a principal. Here I am now, Principal of Oakland International Academy Elementary School in the heart of Hamtramck/Detroit city limits. I would have never believed all those years ago when Professor Carson encouraged me to become a teacher, that I would someday be leading the most beautiful children to become ""College-Bound"" students and upright citizens in our community. The ultimate goal is that one day I may be able to impact our students to fulfill dreams and ambitions that they never believed they could accomplish just as Professor Carson had done for me.

Submitted by: Isel Acevedo

Teacher: Mrs. Janet Fernandez

Teacher's School: Pinecrest Cove Prep. Academy


When I think of an exceptional teacher, I think of a teacher who is not only caring, compassionate, and loving but also one who challenges their students to their fullest potential. Last year, my son and many other students where blessed with an amazing Kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Janet Fernandez, at Pinecrest Cove Prep. Academy in Miami, Florida.

Kindergarten is a time to teach students to be responsible, caring and polite individuals and Mrs. Fernandez did just that! My son developed an immense interest in school as a whole. He learned to be responsible for his classwork and homework among many other things. He learned that it was ok to make mistakes, as long as they learned from those mistakes. Mrs. Fernandez, focused on high academics as well as working with the students’ individual needs. Children learned to work independently and also, how to work together in groups. These are all skills that will stay with our children throughout their educational years and will lead to academic success!

Mrs. Fernandez, always had a smile on her face and her ability to connect with the students as well as with the parents was admirable. She was very communicative with parents in person and via e-mail and she also kept us up to date on fun educational activities that took place in the classroom. She did this by sharing pictures on a class website. By doing this, parents were aware of the learning that was taking place in the classroom. Which in turn, helps parents of young children have conversations with their kids about academic activities. Mrs. Fernandez helped make my son’s Kindergarten educational experience one that he will always remember as a positive, wonderful, and enjoyable time. When teachers work alongside with parents to ensure academic success, children learn to love school BUT best of all they learn to love LEARNING!

Submitted by: Dawn Patterson

Teacher: Ms. Lipkowitz

Teacher's School: William Ramsay Elementary, Alexandria, VA  


I had a disability, but to this teacher, I was just like everyone else in the class. Now that I’m grown and an educator myself, I attest my perseverance and tackling all those obstacles to Ms. Lipkowitz. It doesn’t matter how old I get, I’ll always remember her and tell this story. I want others to know about her and the type of teachers I look for when I interview candidates. I’m proud to say that I’m a principal now, and although I don’t know if Ms. Lipkowitz is still alive, I’ll always keep her story alive!

It was back in elementary school, at William Ramsay Elementary, in Alexandria, VA. I had dyslexia and struggled a ton to get through Reading. Some teachers thought I was being mischievous, but then there was Ms. Lipkowitz. She was memorable to me for several reasons. She, to me, looked like my pop idol at the time, Whitney Houston. She was relevant and understood what the kids liked. I knew this to be true, not just to me, but to others that came back to visit her even when they were in middle and high school. She remembered them too and would introduce us to them. I thought that was neat. Her students came back to share what they were up to. It spoke to me that she was something special…….and then she did something for me that showed me how special she was.

Everyone can remember those uncomfortable times when teachers would call on you to read out loud to the class. Ugh! I cringed and sunk in my seat hoping not to catch eyes with the teacher, praying she wouldn’t call on me next…….and then it happened. She called on me and I was petrified! I wasn’t disobedient and knew that I just had to suck it up and get on with it, so I did. At that time, I had worked so hard to see things the right way on the page that I read robotically, and NEVER, paid attention to the meaning of the words. I just wanted to make sure I said the words right. Well, this time, I messed up. I still remember to this day the words I read and the things kids said in return. I read that the character of the story had a banana on his head. HOW EMBARRASING! It was a bandana!!! I missed the “D”and the kids didn’t mind letting me know how crucial that “D” was. They laughed and I just shriveled. Ms. Lipkowitz was angry and immediately put a stop to it. She didn’t point out my disability, she simply stood up for me and in the nicest way possible, had those students reflect on their behavior. The manner she did it caused no repercussions for me. The kids didn’t retaliate and I felt supported. Yes, I’ll always remember that mistake, but, more importantly, I’ll always remember that it didn’t matter. I grew up wanting to be that same type of teacher; supportive, encouraging, the one that would make the difference!

If I could tell Ms. Lipkowitz what I’m up to today, I’d tell her that I am a principal now and that I always look for teachers like her. I’d thank her for being that one that made a difference in my life and that after 35 years, I still remember her name and can still close my eyes and see her smiling face. Isn’t that what it is all about?

Submitted by: Patricia Zoe Rivera

Teacher: Tammy Jackson

Teacher's School: High school computer class


It was sophomore year when I met the teacher that changed my life, Tammy Jackson (Ms. Jackson). Ms. Jackson came into Academy For Career Exploration as a substitute teacher for our computer Science class few months into the school year. When Ms. Jackson arrived at Ace she knew nothing about computer science, yet every day we noticed she came in determined to give us our education. As time went by I found out she was going to be our teacher for the rest of the year. I decided to build a relationship with her on a teacher/student level. After I made the decision of building a bond with her, she slowly started to become the first adult I would go to for advice, not only school related but personal Ms. Jackson is an amazing teacher, i'm not only speaking for myself when I say she has a beautiful soul. As a teenager in highschool I have been through things like heartbreaks, curiosity, and even self doubts. Through all those things Ms. Jackson had my back; yes, sometimes the truth hurts but i rather hear from her what i needed to hear and not what i wanted to hear. Ms. Jackson did not only have one impact in my life she had many. She taught our class to speak up and fight for the things we want, and she also taught us that some battles are not worth fighting. Her students have always been her biggest position, no matter how much we got on her nerves she would make sure we were doing ok everyday even if she wasn't. Ms. Jackson helped my senior class make a presentation for our administration about how we wanted seniors to wear black pants to stand out from the underclassmen, and thanks to her we got the yes!. Nobody can say they have the best teacher in the world because she is here at Ace with us, and I honestly wish every school will have someone as special as her.

Submitted by: Reginald James

Teacher: Maisha Riley  

Teacher's School: Community Preparatory Academy


My name is Reginald James, I started working at Community Preparatory Academy in 2014 as a support staff. My duties ranged from yard monitor to teacher's aide. Maisha Riley, the director of the school is the person who interviewed me and hired me onto the staff. Since working under Mrs. Riley, I’ve been able to grow into more of a leadership position. Mrs. Riley has taught and molded me into what I’ve mounted up to be.

In 2014, I was finishing a Bachelor’s degree in human services. I had no intentions on working in education for as long as I have been. Working with and for Mrs. Riley here at Community Preparatory Academy, education has become a passion for me. It was Mrs. Riley that helped me to realize that this was my passion. As a result, I am at the end of a Master’s degree in education, and am currently applying to an Ed.D. program at Loyola Marymount University.

Mrs. Riley has not only taught me by telling me what to do, or sending emails, she’s showed me by actually modeling what an educational leader looks like. Her thorough and persistent approach to all of her missions, has inspired and motivated me to do the same. The bar is set high for me as I work, with and for Mrs. Riley. As the director of Community Preparatory Academy, Mrs. Riley has been able to get the best out of staff members like myself, as well as convince us that we are all capable to better our community.

In closing, I am thankful for the opportunity to share my story of the journey I’ve started with Mrs. Riley. I am highly motivated to continue to make positive impacts on the lives here at Community Preparatory Academy, as well as those in our community. To some, $1,000 may not be much, but for us, it’ll definitely help us to continue to change the lives here in our community.

Submitted By: Jonathan Mathis

Teacher: Dr. Rhonda Fergason

Teacher's School: Arbor Hill Elementary School


Dr. Rhonda Ferguson helped me to find my purpose, as an educator. She was one of the only teachers who students would run to her classroom, and never wish to leave. Dr. Ferguson helped me to learn, at a very young age, what it meant to invest in your purpose. As a musician, she taught her students the importance or practice, pitch, performance, and passion, all of which came through as we sang the tunes of ""Ain't Misbheavin"" or songs celebrating holidays of nations around the world. Most important, she provided life-lessons, captured in songs and mantras, that still direct my work for students every day. She equipped students with a self-respect and discipline that could not be compromised as we moved from elementary school, to and through college. 

I will never forget the joy Dr. Ferguson introduced into Arbor Hill. To this day, she remains a testament to relationship-building with students. I can remember when novice teachers had a hard time supporting students and families, Dr. Ferguson became a coach to the teacher, while also holding the student accountable for his or her actions. Even now, I still look to Dr. Ferguson as an exemplar and often think of how her voice reached me then, and how I can be that voice now, in my own school community.

Submitted By: Stephanie Badia

Teacher: Ms. Roberts, Ms. Villa, and Ms. Ezero

Teacher's School: Saint Hope Elementary


I listed three teachers above, and it was hard to only list the three I did. All three of these women work at PS7 Elementary in Sacramento California, and in the short time that I have known them they have had such a huge impact on my life. My 2 oldest children attend this elementary school, and these are their teachers. The work they do with my children every day is unparalleled. They work in a building that looks like it is falling apart. in addition, the school is located in an urban part of the city that most people don't want to got to. But when you walk into the school, inside their classrooms, there is no doubt that learning is happening and children are succeeding. They are so gracious with all the children and they have challenged by boys with their education pushing them to meet higher expectations. I never see any of them without a welcoming smile, they know every child by name and know who their siblings are. They find time to communicate my child successes throughout the day and inform me immediately of any areas for growth. My children are confident about their learning and enjoy being challenged. These women, and the entire school, have improved my life my improving the lives of my children. The future for my children is very bright and these women have helped their flames to burn brighter.

Submitted By: Stephanie Badia

Teacher: Ms. Amador

Teacher's School: Pinecrest Cover Preparatory Academy


There is always that one teacher that stands out from the rest. The teacher either has an amusing way of teaching or just has that virtuous vibe. We, students, take our teachers for granted because they either give too much homework, or they’re impolite. The truth is, some teachers inspire us in a prodigious way, specifically one teacher. 

Ms. Amador stands out from the rest of the teachers because she has that upbeat attitude everybody enjoys. Ms. Amador also has an exclusive way of teaching her students which is what makes her inspiring and inimitable. I remember once when she made us get into groups to edit each other’s essays. This was a great way to teach us to be better writers. Ms. Amador has inspired me to be a superior person by aiding one another with his/her essay if a student is having trouble or difficulty. Ms. Amador lets us work in groups sometimes to be able to see what other peers think and how we could help them if they have a struggle with the activity. For example, if Ms. Amador continues to do activities such as groups. This will allow all of her students’ to be better thinkers and accept other student’s feedback. Her attitude is what makes her a sole teacher because whatever we are learning about, she makes it pleasurable and exciting and then every student is hooked on to what she is stating.

Ms. Amador has also inspired me to be a teacher because she makes the job seem thrilling since she makes the activities and lessons entertaining. I recall one time when she was teaching us about figurative language and she made us make a pamphlet that was colorful with the definition of figurative language along with examples. I enjoyed the pamphlet activity so much that when I got home I wanted to decorate the pamphlet even more. I drew some flowers and doodled on it. The point is, Ms. Amador makes her teaching look simple and amusing which has inspired me to become a teacher when I become an adult. Ms. Amador also does some activities outdoors with an assistant who reviews the subject or skills, we are learning about currently.

Overall, Ms. Amador has inspired me in uncountable ways and some of them are to become a teacher, to be a better person, and many more ways. Just remember, there is always going to be that one teacher who will stand out. Now, tell me about a teacher who inspires you.

Submitted By: Paola Fuster

Teacher: Mrs. Nelson

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Miramar


Many of my teachers have helped me become a better person. But there was one teacher that helped me with so much more. Her name is Mrs. Nelson. She was my second grade teacher at Somerset Academy Miramar.

In second grade I have four HUGE oil bags above and under my eyes. The two on my eyelids went away but the two underneath my eyes didn't. The doctors let me know that I needed to have surgery in order to have them removed completely. When my mom e-mailed the teacher about the situation, she kept telling me ""stay strong, you got this"". She helped me with so much during that time. 

In second grade, I got my first B ever on my interim. I started crying so much because I wanted an A. But Mrs. Nelson explained to me that a B was still good and it was only my interim so I still had time to change my grade.

I remember my first experience with real drama. My friend told me to go to the office with her and tell them that the vending machine took our dollar even though that never happened. I guess I was trying to be “cool” so I agreed to it. Long story short when the time came I blurted it out and told the truth. We both got in trouble and we had to see the principle. She was surprised because I never do things like that. All that happened was that they told our parents and we had to talk to Mrs. Nelson. I told my side of the story, and she told hers. I promised I told the truth and I really did. She said it was my idea even though that wasn’t true. It took too long so I lied and said I did it but she knew I was lying 

Sadly, Mrs. Nelson left the school, but I will always remember her. I just wish I could give her a really big hug and a huge thank you for everything. She taught me how to stay strong, and she truly was, ""one in a million"".

Submitted By: Anya Walcott

Teacher: Mrs. Poux

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Miramar


There are many different types of teacher. There are the mean one, the ones that teach badly, the ones with no patience, the pretty ones ect. Mrs.Poux was the best teacher i ever had. She had the most unique teaching methods I had ever encountered. Mrs.Poux. Whom I`ve known for 11 years. I remeber one day I asked Mrs.Poux, "What color is this". She replied ocean. I asked Mrs.Poux what word is this she replied ever ever ever ever. 4 years later i understood what she meant the color i pointed at was blue the ocean is blue. The word i pointed to was forever. ever ever ever ever is what she replied. there are four evers. This is what made me a better problem solver and made me so good at riddles and brain twisters and other sorts of challenges. Mrs.Poux pushed my brain to the maximum limit. Or as she would say put your thinking cap on and get to it. Mrs.Poux. is still my motivation for aything and everything. Mrs.Poux used to tell me things such as your to hard on yourself and no one can be harder on you then yourself.Mrs.Poux taught me the importance of getting an education. She taught me manners, respect, patience, responsibility, self control and much more. And all this at a very young age. I consider Mrs.Poux my air source my life source my best friend she was just such a great teacher. All this made a huge impact on my life, my personality, my characteristics, and just the things that make me me! This teacher can make me happy and laugh at the saddest of times. You know how you remember your favorite vacation? Why? Because it was important to you and it was fun and you had a great time. Right? So you cherish that memory forver. It makes you happy thinking about it. Hapiness. A warm special feeling in your heart. One of your various emotions. Inspiration can come from the smallest of things like the heart. Mrs.Poux listened to my heart instead of my head. I love Mrs.Poux so so much and that’s how it will stay forever. Mrs.Poux made a happier and a better person and to be honest I really appreciate that. She believe in me when I didn’t even believe in myself. Mrs.Poux. My favorite teacher who I love and cherish like gold.

Submitted By: Rudy Monzon

Teacher: Mrs. Laudicina

Teacher's School: Chapel Trail Elementary


Mrs. Laudicina changed my life in elementary school and it will stick with me forever because of her kindness, fairness and perseverance she taught very well... I was with for 2 years we won the field day championship 2 times and won class of the year and we were in kindergarten!! And we won it the following year as well we also won academic achievements. She used to make a lot of jokes one of them is fairly obvious by now it was why did the chicken cross the road?? You know the answer anyways But personally she helped me a lot she helped me learn math and reading... I learned to read fluently and clearly... but after first grade it was over I had a mean teacher and I did not see Mrs. Laudicina that much years went by and I had no other teacher like Mrs. Laudicina all of them were grouchy and mean but in 5th grade i got into the safety patrol program and... I got to patrol her hallway it was nice because all the kids in her class were very quiet but I got to see my hallway I had not visited it since 4 years ago I was a big inspiration to her class I told them funny stories and how Mrs. Laudicina was the best teacher. My brother also had her for first grade she thought of him as a mini version of me because my brother has the same characteristics as me humble and proud... I still wish Mrs. Laudicina was still my teacher but hey I am growing up and getting good grades in school she played a big part of this haven't you heard the phrase sometimes change is good…

P.S Mrs. Laudicina if you read this thank you for everything…

Submitted By: Michael Mahoney

Teacher: Ms. Aguiar

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Chapel Hill


When I was 11 i was starting 6th grade and one teacher that year stood out to me it was Ms. Aguiar she always helped me with work and when I didn't finish she let me stay after class and finish it then. I always tried to pass her class and most of the time I did because it was fun and I liked the work. she also put us in groups which i thought was nice. I really enjoyed her in 6th grade so much so that i wanted to do creative writing the next year. I am now in 7th grade and am taking creative writing with Ms. Aguiar as my teacher she is just as reat as she was the year before. But during he summer I got tragic news and it was that my grandmother had cancer. This really did effect me and a couple weeks later she passed away that news hit me like a truck. I missed a lot of school cause I had to go to the funeral and Ms. Aguiar showed up which got me very excited and happy since then Ms. Aguiar has been nice and kind to me since this tragic news and she said she will always be here if I am ever feeling sad or under the weather and I really appreciate that. To conclude, Ms. Aguiar is one of the most inspiring and best teachers that have ever taught me and for that I am very thankful and would just like to say thank you ms.aguiar and thank you somerset for this amazing teacher.also, this teache inspires me because she always tells me I can do better and get work done and do very well on the test.

Submitted By: Sophia Vega

Teacher: Ms. Amador

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy


School is rough, especially in middle school, but fourth grade was hard too. I attended Pinecrest Cove for elementary and now I’m in middle school. School in general is frustrating, but with the right teacher and environment school could not be better, especially with the help of your teachers! 

In fourth grade I was a very shy and nervous person. It was a new grade, new year, new environment, and new teachers. When I first met my new teacher, Ms. Amador, I knew she was going to make a great impact on me and my learning. As a very timid and hesitant girl, I was excited, but nervous for what the school had in stored for me. Ms. Amador welcomed every student with open arms and had a passion for teaching, that no other teacher had. She was encouraging and invested in our learning skills to help us in our future goals. Ms. Amador would always praise us for doing the right thing, which was very motivating for many of us students. Like all students, I had one subject that I wasn’t excelling at very well. That subject was reading. Just as any other student, I would day dream about silly and non-important things. I would also doubt myself constantly, weather it would be answering multiple choice questions or answering short response questions. I could just go back to the passage and reread it as many times as I needed. It just wouldn’t fail, I would struggle with my answers. This began to have a toll on me and my learning. When I finally told Ms. Amador about my struggles, she told me to stay focused, to put all the silly, non-important things aside, and to put school things first no matter what! A good hint that I ended up learning was that my voice or I was in the story acting in the passage. At least that’s what I thought. Ms. Amador pushed me to my furthest potential! Any extra time she had from teaching, she used to help me. Ms. Amador gave me some extra work to practice at home. With any questions that I got wrong, she would explain what I did wrong. As the school year passed, I got better and better. I hadn’t been daydreaming and doubting myself. I was starting to enjoy the subject and like it a lot more. The next thing you know I’m doing better in reading than math, and math is my best subject! Ms. Amador is one of my most favorite teachers that I’ve ever had. Even though all my teachers have been great, she shined in my view. I couldn’t have had a better teacher!

Overall, Ms. Amador has made a positive difference in my life. She has helped me through many tough times. I went from failing every tests to focusing and passing my tests. This is all do to the cause of my teacher Ms. Amador! She had a big, positive impact on me and my learning!

Submitted By: Alejandro Delestre

Teacher: Mrs. Parker

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy


A teacher who made a positive impact in my life was my third grade teacher Mrs. Parker. She was the first teacher to make learning easy and fun for me. She believed in all her students to succeed and to become better people in life. She went out of her way to further explain something if I didn't understand by giving different variations to solve a problem. She inspired me to become a better student by correcting me if I did something wrong. She taught me how to work hard and achieve greatness. She inspired me to excel in all the work I do and get straight A’s. She is one of the reason why I want to go to college. Everyday was a new challenge learning different and new things like cursive. When we started learning to write in cursive it was challenging but she told me not to give up. I was one of the first people to master cursive in my class and because of that she gave me one of her special pencil’s. She also gave me the courage to speak in front of a group of people. When we had to read I would always raise my hand and she would give me a microphone and we will have to stand up in front of the class and read a couple of paragraphs. This is what gave me the courage to speak in front of people. She also had good collaboration with all her students making sure they all understood. This inspired me to help people and to make me want them to become successful because no one should feel at a disadvantage to other people. Everyone learns at a different speed and pace so I understand if students are struggling because not everyone is the same.

Submitted By: Preston Warrington

Teacher: Mr. Cooper

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy


The teacher that inspired me was my Algebra I teacher Mr. Cooper. The first day I went into to meet the teacher I had no clue if I was going to like my classes or not. When it came to math I expected it to be like any other regular old boring math class. When we walked into the room and started meeting him, he said that he will change my perspective on math before I leave the classroom that year. He proved it correct. I came into Geometry honors following that year. In that year he taught different than any other teacher I could have gotten. I learned more in that class than any other class that year. He encouraged asking questions and working problems out even if it took time. When it came to test he was honest, which is one of the best things you can get come a teacher. As time went on I finished my work faster and got them correct more often, which improved my view on math as a whole. Another great thing was it made me smarter in general, making me think that I could actually do well in other classes that year. Also that year when we did math I could trust him with helping me and knowing that he would not judge us on how we did it or if we did not get it correct. It helped me finally try me then I usually would. It also helped keep me awake because he made it fun and want to learn on how to do math. One more thing that he did was make it as friendly of a place as possible. For majority of the school year he let us sit anywhere with anyone of our choice which helped make it more interesting to work.

Submitted By: Olivia Martinez

Teacher: Mrs. Sosa

Teacher's School: Pinecrest Cove Preparatory Academy


As children, we all have teachers that strive to make an impact on our lives. In school, we receive an education and participate in many school functions, activities, and clubs. But often times, we don’t realize how much effort, and sacrifice the teachers make. My former fourth grade science, math, and social studies teacher, Mrs. Marlene Sosa gave in massive amounts of care, knowledge and kindness. I chose to write about this teacher because she truly changed the way I think about my education and my future.

Mrs. Sosa was my exceptional fourth grade homeroom teacher who also taught my fellow classmates and I science, math and social studies. Now, don’t get me wrong, I have had amazing teachers throughout my entire time at Pinecrest Cove, but Mrs. Sosa really did influence me and others around me. You may be asking how she did such a great thing. When I was much younger, school was just an everyday occurrence in which I would wake up early in the morning, get dressed and head off to talk with my friends and learn about things that I will need in my future. I had never thought of school as anything more than that until, fourth grade. I always had fun with my friends as we laughed and enjoyed each other’s company, but when I was recommended for the gifted program due to my above average FSA scores, I realized that the levels of education can vary. Some kids work at a slower pace, while others work at a more speedily pace. These students were known as the “advanced” students. This was the very first time I was in an advanced program with other great students. I was very new to this type of material and to the children in this program. Mrs. Sosa was my first advanced teacher. She did her best to try and make me and other students that were in the same position as me feel safe, and to make the experience enjoyable and memorable. Fortunately, she succeeded and I am truly grateful for her teaching ways. I doubt that any other student who has had Mrs. Sosa as a teacher would disagree due to her excellent records. Mrs. Sosa graduated form Florida International University receiving her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary education. She also worked hard in fulfilling her Master’s Degree in Reading. Mrs. Sosa also has approved ESOL certification and is working on her getting her gifted certification. So you can clearly see that this teacher is well trained and works hard to ensure that her students are getting the best education they can receive.

All in all, Mrs. Sosa is a very hard working teacher who teaches her students life skills and respect in addition to math, science, and social studies. I hope to see her succeed and reach all of her life long goals because she sure did help me realize what mine are and what I want to do for my future. Fourth grade was truly a year I won’t forget because of this outstanding teacher that made a large impact on my life.

Submitted By: Lance Sanantonio

Teacher: Mrs. V


The Teacher that has made a big impact in my life has been my middle school teacher. Her name was Ms.V, I knew her since I was in 5th grade; she left when I was in 8th grade. She taught me so many life lesson. An important lesson she taught was that many people are going through other stuff we don’t know. Like how u step into another person shoes and walk around in it. That means many people have a fight that you don’t know and if u can walk around in that person skin and how they live. Another positive differences was that people need to look out for each other and care for them when in need. I take that to heart because im always caring for people and looking out for the smallest thing. She also check me in check when I was a little out of control because she was the base of me being able to focus in class. Another reason was that she gave me ideas about to what to be in the future. One of them was joining the military. I told her I wanted to join as a combat medic because I want to save people and being a doctor gets a lot of money. She was like that’s a good idea but what about not join the marines because I many get hurt or something worst. She was my biggest reason in being in deciding if I should join the marines or become a doctor. Another thing she changed was that I should care for people more because people hate each other to much and I should look out for people. That is why Ms.V was the biggest differences that change my life.   

Submitted By: Jeremie

Teacher: Mr. Smith

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy


It feels good when you have someone that is near you as a teacher, a mentor, and a parent. When you have someone to be there and try to help you throw whatever and can be there for you almost 24/7, it is good. Since i was in Fourth Grade, Mr. Smith was my language art teacher. As months past, i started to know Mr. Amith better and I didn’t like him that much. Well if a teachers first expression is to rage and other stuff than what would you think about them?

Even though Mr. Smith wasn’t perfect he treated me like he was my father and supported me in everything he had. Throw thick in thin I have spent 2-Years in in elementary with Mr. Smith and 6-7th Grade with Mr. Smith.

Out of school Me and Mr. Smith would go out to places like the movies and dave and busters and go to studios and just check out amazing things. In Around the summer of 2017, the school that Mr. Amith created was closed in the fact that Mr. Smith didn’t have that many staff to help grow our school(called The Human Experience) grow and that upsetted a lot of us children today that was apart of the school. A couple months later, there was an email sent to me and basically said that the school that Mr. Amith built was made into an organization for the people that use to go to T.H.E that changed my whole life. Since that day, Mr. Smith has been a mentor and godfather. In around January of 2018, Mr. Smith came back to CCA (after working there before meeting me) and was the new english teacher for my Freshman year class. It was great seeing Mr. Smith as my teacher again. From Teacher, to mentor, and to godfather.

Submitted By: Cole Peyton

Teacher: Coach Peyton

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy



Submitted By: Matthew Stroud

Teacher: Mrs. Ferreris


The teacher that inspired me the most would have to be my kindergarten teacher. She taught me a lot of important things, how to read and write, how to count and how to help people in their hardest times. She taught my class, then the next, and left, where she went, to New Jersey, to help kids that didn’t have the opportunities to learn. Kids with parents that wouldn’t send them to school or no parents at all. She showed me that no matter what you should help people in their hardest times. She told me later on in life, those same people that you helped might help you if you ever need it. She showed me an example of this by giving me one hundred dollars to wash her car with my fourth grade basketball team to help get customized jerseys. She did this because I wrote an essay in second grade saying why she was such a good teacher, because of that, she got a raise, which she said she needed. That hundred dollars ended up getting us the jerseys, which we wore to our first basketball tournament. That tournament we got second place and got to play at the ESPN Wide World of Sports, which is a huge complex consisting of fields and courts for multiple sports. The jersey that was given to me had my last name on it with a number that I was proud to wear, ten. I took that number all the way to eighth grade, the grade I left the team. The jersey is a very special thing to me, it is so special that I have to framed and hung up above my trophy case, which has trophies and medals I have won with that team. In the end, my kindergarten teacher, inspired me to help others, because they might end up helping, or even setting a path your dreams to happen.

Submitted By: Louis Fonseca

Teacher: Mr. Meerschaert

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy


Have you ever had a teacher that has a positive influence on your life? I sure have! My influential teacher was a smart chemistry teacher, Mr. Meerschaert. He was a positive influence because he showed me I’m smarter then I led on to be. He was an honest man all the way from Michigan. Everyone adored him and when he left Florida to go to Oklahoma we all cried and were deeply saddened. He taught me to be my better self through laughter and honesty. He and his chemistry class taught me to be more respectful and in that class I felt like a real student. Mr. Meerschaert inspired the class with quotes like “I didn’t do it” and “Ladies and Gentlemen, quiet down, quiet down”. Chemistry class was more entertaining and educational with him as our teacher and the multiple hands-on projects he gave us every two weeks were very basic and legit. He helped me gain a positive outlook in science and made me a more scientific person through his teaching. Positive input he has put into my life are words like happy, fun, entertaining, supportive, and educational. These are all words that describe the positive feedback he has gave me. As a freshman, who is just starting high school his class was a necessity for getting used to the new high-school system. I even made new friends in Mr. Meerschaert’s chemistry class that I still hang out with to this day. My 9th grade year stress was cured because a whole lot of laughs in that class made me feel at home and had a positive feeling of comfortability. Over all, this teacher experience has been full of positive things. Mr. Meerschaert if you are reading this you have had a positive influence in my life and I hope we see each other again in this life or in the afterlife.

Submitted By: Jose Vargas

Teacher: Mr. Webster


Mr. Webster (Dan Webster) was my favorite teacher from last year. He really knows how to drill things in your head so you remember the material. He was my AP Human Geography texchaer last year and that was my first time taking an AP class. It was very difficult and he helped me pass the class with a B. I failed the exam but it was college level so it doesn't matter that much. Throughout the year i thought i was going to fail. I went to him a few times and he gave me a lot of tips on how to read and take notes. From their I started getting A’s and B’s on everything. That wasn't the only class I was getting A’s and B’s in. All those tips he gave me helped me in all my classes. He was very good at giving notes. Even though we had very long lectures he would explain it so well that I would understand it right away. We were always taking notes. It was a daily thing. My hand was hurting at the end of the year. Then we had these questions called FRQ’s which were Free Response Questions. I struggled in that category a lot as well. He had went over it with the whole class so everyone understood what to do. He also went over how to answer multiple choice questions. A lot of tips were giving by him that can be carried out through college. He was teaching a college course so I'm pretty sure he knows what he was talking about. He was a great teacher and also a great person. He would give you the facts and reality like a person should. He has made a big impact on everyone he reached and I feel that everyone should feel the same.

Submitted By: Carolina Carvajalino

Teacher: Mrs. Swogger

Teacher's School: Somerset Arts Conservatory


Not every student has the overwhelming privilege of growing and discovering with the same teacher for 7 consecutive years. Not every artist has the pleasure of learning over 40 dances from the same dedicated soul. I have been fortunate enough to surpass both limits, while molding a friendship with a mentor who catalyzed my odyssey to self-discovery. My journey with this teacher began towards the thrilling end of 5th grade. To this day, I still remember the anxiety that rushed through my veins the first time I stepped into the room I call home today. I, like twenty other nervous graduates, shyly filled the undiscovered paradise. Up until this moment, the teacher whom we were auditioning for represented the silhouette of a demanding artist; an individual we had only heard tales of. Luckily enough, I made the JV Pantherettes Dance Team, a position that would come to effect my character today. From that point forward, I do not remember a day in my life in which her morals did not loosely shape my actions nor one in which memories involving her empire didn’t consume my thoughts. As a middle schooler, I had not yet clearly defined what this teacher meant to me. She was the fun and supportive creator whose classroom I would unconsciously escape into. During those awkward years, she eased the transition and reminded me that the weirder the better. She created a safe haven centered around the productivity and free-flow of the creative mind. Every time I enter her classroom, I am free to be whoever I want. Although students can create a bond with their teacher, there is certain connection an artist creates with another artist. Surrounding yourself constantly with others who bleed the same passion is a gift unmatched. Being able to put on some music, turn off the lights, and vibe with a mentor is an activity that enrichens my soul. Over the years, my relationship with her has grown. She’s seen me transform from the shy 6th grader to the independent and secure individual I consider myself today. Her, more than anyone, understands my journey. She supports both my academic and artistic decisions, even though they may not be what we envisioned 6 years ago . I thank her for helping me build my confidence and teaching me that you could pursue your academic goals, while satisfying what your soul demands. She’s reminded me that adulthood is shaped around a fine mix between your passion and your goals. I could truly tell that she enjoys everyday of her life; a statement I hope someone could say about me a few years down the road. She’s truly a best friend and inspiration whom I couldn’t survive the stress of high school without. Between all the tests and college applications, I know that every time I enter her doors I will learn more about myself. She’s fostered relationships, year after year, with girls who I will keep in my heart for the rest of my life. She’s the mother hen of the many sisterhoods I’ve been blessed with. There is not enough praise for an individual who takes the time and heart to understand the students presented before her. I could say wholeheartedly, that I owe my journey to self-discovery to Mrs. Stacey Swogger

Submitted By: Ruth Paik

Teacher: Mr. Bowen

Teacher's School: Pasadena Avenue Elementary School


My most inspiring teacher by far was Mr. Bowen, mainly because of his great sense of humor and his ability to make his students laugh. The first day of 6th grade, he introduced himself saying, “My name is Mr. Bowen, not, ‘Mr. Bonehead,’ as some of my former students have called me.” The fact that he kept a straight face made it all the more hilarious. His humor permeated the classroom. Once, during a quiet study time, he suddenly asked two boys and me to sit next to each other in front of the classroom. There was a boy in the class named Jean-Paul Root. Wondering why in the world he was doing this, he then pointed to each of us saying our names, “John, Paul, Ruth!” Some of us groaned at the pun, but his constant wit made going to school a joy.  

Mr. Bowen had an extremely entertaining persona and would always participate in the school spirit days. On 50’s day, hair slicked back with vaseline and wearing cuffed jeans, he stood near the drinking fountain and turned the knob for children, thirsty from kickball. He amused us to no end, like when he was demonstrating how to put commas after every third digit. Waving his chalk earnestly in the air he said, “You must always start at the far right of the number!” The he proceeded to count the digits, “One, two, three, comma! One, two, three, comma! One, two, three, comma!….” He did a little jump with each comma creating a very silly and unexpected rhythmic little song and dance, causing everyone to roll in the aisles laughing.  

Mr. Bowen had a talent for performance and sang in a barber shop quartet. For the principal’s birthday, he taught us how to sing, “Seventy-Six Trombones” from the Broadway play, “The Music Man,” each one of us singing a phrase with gusto. When he thought we were well-rehearsed enough, he called the office. The principal entered, wondering what it was he was called for, and it was my part to start our performance by shouting, “Ten-hut!” We then comically launched into song and a good laugh was shared by principal, teacher and all students.

Because, like all children, he loved to laugh and make others laugh, he had just the right amount of tolerance for our youthful shenanigans. At the same time, he had absolutely no tolerance for bullying and whenever he found out about a student being bullied, he would be sure to put an end to it. We felt safe in his presence because we knew he would not let anyone be hurt in any way.  

Mr. Bowen was very kind to me. He was the director of the school plays and he knew that I was devastated for not having gotten a part in the play the previous year. Being a child, I held a grudge. But he wanted to help me and that year he generously gave me a very special part that he wrote into his own version of “The Grinch who Stole Christmas.” I was the “Christmas Goose” who announced my presence with a very loud, honking goose call tool, the kind hunters use to attract geese. My character as the goose had the best lines, drawing the most laughs. It was exhilarating to have a multipurpose room full of people laughing at my lines. I had schoolmates and their parents telling me that I was their favorite character in the play. It was the most exciting experience of my childhood and it gave me the confidence to later pursue a dance degree. I appreciate having had the chance to have Mr. Bowen as a teacher, and I am sure all his pupils feel the same way.

Submitted By: Cecilia Clark

Teacher: Jocelyn Garcia

Teacher's School: Homeschool with Springs


In school, I could never understand or get what I needed. I felt dumb and like I couldn’t do anything. In 7th I was pulled out of a charter school due to issues and went into the home school program. I was honestly worried, Would I do good? Would I get what I needed? Who was my new teacher? Would they be sweet and easy going? I later found out I was getting my nieces old teacher they had but, she left to have a baby. I felt a little better because I heard so many good things. On the first meet, I wasn’t nervous like I thought I would. I felt safe and welcomed. This ES worked so hard to help me. She was a friend and listened to everything. She became family in my eyes. She helped me and made me feel smart and worth it.

I would like Jocelyn Garcia to be nominated for the $1,000 for the home school. She has helped me so much. Jocelyn Garcia went the extra mile to make sure my needs were fulfilled. She made sure I had all of my classes, she made sure that I was comfortable in my classes because I was scared. She always checks in with me even on days school was out. She was a friend and was an amazing ES. She gave me the resources to fulfill my subjects. Jocelyn would get me any supplies or extra books I needed. Jocelyn would give me feedback on everything. She made sure I was OK. I am beyond grateful I got Jocelyn. She made me feel confident and smart. I now am doing well and am independent. I know many tricks and tips that help me in High School because of her. I honestly don’t think I would be the way I am today without her. Jocelyn changed my life, my view on school and I thank her. I’m doing better than I was years ago, I feel like I can do anything. When I get worried or scared when it comes to school or daily life I think about the words Jocelyn had told me. I will never forget Jocelyn. When I graduate I want her there with me because I wouldn’t have been able to do what I do today without her.

I have always felt dumb and like I was that kid that needed help. I felt like I was judged by too many teachers and wasn’t given the time of day but, Jocelyn was different. She listened and helped my thoughts happen. Jocelyn should honestly be given an award for her amazing work. She treats us amazing and helps us. She would listen to me and my mom at meetings. She’s like family so we could tell her anything. I would cry to her and get angry and she would help me. She is like a superhero teacher. I haven’t met anyone as sweet as her. I am grateful I have this chance to thank her and nominate her for this.

Submitted By: Noel Mayeske

Teacher: Mr. Lotfy

Teacher's School: The Main Street Academy


Mr. Lotfy is a fifth grade teacher at The Main Street Academy in College Park, Georgia. More than that: Mr. Lotfy is a game-changer for the scholars he teaches. I am nominating him for this award because of the effect he's had on my own sons, as well as the other students he has taught at our school.

Mr. Lotfy is the kind of teacher who connects with students in a way that balances a strong sense of caring and nurturing alongside high expectations and standards. He demands respect, but also gives it. He brings the subject of social studies and history alive to students who otherwise had been less interested previously.

Mr. Lotfy has an innate ability to galvanize a classroom and raise the level of learning by his passion for teaching, knowledge of details, and ability to project himself. He takes his job seriously, but not so much so that he forgets to laugh and realize he is the presence of amazing kids who want to grow and learn. Like any born teacher, he realizes his gifts can affect others for years.

One of his signature projects at our school has been the TMSA Gentlemen's Club, a part of our Schoolwide Enrichment Model (SEM) program. The club helps boys who are growing into young men learn the finer points of manners, dress, politeness and self-respect.

We are fortunate to have Mr. Lotfy at our school, and I would be thrilled if he were recognized with this award. Feel free to contact me for any further information. Thanks for your consideration.

Submitted By: Samantha

Teacher: Mrs. Blanco

Teacher's School: Renaissance Charter School


The teacher that made difference in my life would be my third grade teacher Kristina Blanco. The school had just open that year. No one knew anyone else, Mrs. Blanco was kind and understanding. It was hard for everyone to adjust right away so she gave us time to get to know each other. Not knowing anyone impacted me hard because I have only known one school from pre-k through second grade. The while I did not know anyone I was struggling to get good grades. Mrs. Blanco saw me and offered to tutor me before school. Since I wanted to pass I went every morning for an entire quarter. And very morning for an entire quarter no matter how silly the question or long the answer she helped me through it. Fast forward a year later. I am in fourth grade and I see Mrs. Blanco in the hallway now and then saying hello with a friendly wave. I am in my third period now and I get into an attendance issue that I knew nothing about. I am scared because I have never been tardy, late, you name it. I had and to this day have no clue how she heard about my attendance but a day later I hear that Mrs. Blanco had cleared up the issue. I was very happy, still I had no idea how or why she did it. I thanked her and I did not really know anything else about her until sixth grade. During my seventh period right after lunch me and a classmate were called up to the dean’s office, which I thought of as pretty strange. Apparently a girl with brown hair like mine had thrown food at other students and the administration thought it was me. Since Mrs. Blanco was no longer a teacher but a representative for sixth grade she was alerted on the issue. Long story short she was able to provide enough evidence to show it was not me. She changed my life because she showed me how a teacher or any person really should treat others. With kindness, patience, and with genuine care.

Submitted By: Tracy Nguyen

Teacher: Mr. Chee

Teacher's School: Oakland Charter High School


Mr. Chee, a man of amazing talents, has taught me a lot about math despite the fact that he's not my current math teacher. The first day I entered his class, I honestly thought he was crazy, mean, strict, etc... I thought he was a teacher that didn't care about students but only getting paid. Boy, was I wrong! Entering his classroom everyday after school, he is always there helping students with their math homework until 6PM. He's dedicated and committed to helping students be the best students we can be. He's always there for you, especially if you don't understand something and he'll take his time teaching the material again. Even if it's not about math, you can talk to him about other things and it's helpful. I may not be in class anymore, but I do ask him for help everyday after school and so does a few other students. It's true that he makes his class extremely difficult, but I know it's because he wants us to be smarter and better. Occasionally, I will make fun of him or tease him, but it's out of love since he's one of the smartest people I know.

Submitted By: Katelyn Dorry

Teacher: Donna Hanson-Kaasa

Teacher's School: Northern Lights Community School

Submitted By: Amy Chery, 6th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Vendetouli

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy Chapel Hill


The teacher that has influenced me the most is my 3rd grade teacher Ms. Vendetouli. She helped me with a lot. At first, I wasn`t so good in reading as I am now. I was struggling and did not know what to do. It was hard for me to understand the work and keep up. I could not focus right and I could not concentrate. It was really hard for me, and I kept failing the class because I didn`t understand the homework or assignments my teachers gave me. 

I wasn`t so good at reading and writing. It was so hard to keep my grades up until my teacher Ms. V helped me have a better understanding and keep my grades up. She made reading exciting and interesting for me which made it easier to learn and focus. She helped me believe in myself which at one point I didn’t believe in myself. I felt hopeless, and like I just couldn`t understand the work. I thought that it was just me that I couldn`t learn the work, but Ms. V help me build my confidence back up and made me feel like I could do anything.

Ms .V inspired me to never give up and to always believe in myself and always try and try. She was probably my favorite teacher next to my mom. She made me realize that I actually like books, but interesting one`s. She tutored me to know all of the information that we were learning in class so when I`m in class I have a better understanding. So, because of that I got better grades which made me and my mom very happy. Then in the 5th grade I got one of highest grades scores on the FSA which is a really big deal. That was one of the greatest moments of my life I had to thank Ms. V for helping me succeed and helping me have confidence in myself when I didn`t have faith in myself. 

Submitted By: Sarah Goodman, 8th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Alvarez

Teacher's School: Devine Savior Academy


I haven't attended my current school long enough for any of the teachers to have a noticeable impact on me. However, at my previous school, there were many teachers that I could have written about and that deserve to be recognized for how amazing they were. But, I had to choose just one to write about, and I am proud to tell her story of how her teaching impacted me and my life.

It started when I was in 6th grade, and I chose art for my second semester elective. At the time, I didn't believe that art was one of my greater, or more noticeable talents. In fact, my best friend of seven years was the true artist in my friend group at the time, and I always thought there was no one who could match her skills, much less myself.

I had heard a lot of good things about the art teacher from people who had taken her class first semester. I was excited to meet her myself for the first time, and I was amazed the first time I sat in her class. Her name is Ana Alvarez, and she was one of the most unique teachers I had ever encountered in my school years.

But, as if fate brought us together, after my first couple of classes we grew to be friends. I began to help her with art projects and and organizing the art room after school. We would bond a lot during that time, and my friendship with her grew along with my new love and interest in art. She was the one who allowed me to unlock my artistic abilities that I didn't even know were within me, while also becoming an awesome friend.

Draw what you see, not what you think you see, is one of her lessons that stuck with me. Along with many others about art and about life itself, which helped me grow and become the person I am. I am beyond grateful for what she did for me, how she taught me, and how she opened my eyes to see that art truly belonged in my life.

Submitted By: Izzie Intriago, 5th Grade Student

Teacher: Mrs. Hine

Teacher's School: Global Village Academy


I have had many great teachers throughout my life, but the one that has most impacted me would be Mrs. Hine.

Mrs. Hine was my English teacher for two (almost three) years. When she started teaching me in third grade I was unconfident in math. My grades had dropped below grade level. I was off the charts in reading and writing and I thought I should just not do math. It took both years, but eventually she taught me my math skills.

But Mrs. Hine has impacted my life in different ways other than math. She has considerably boosted my social skills. She has encouraged my writing.

Mrs. Hine had a family emergency, but continued to teach us even though we all would have understood if she didn't. She would pay special attention to each of us, even while she had to deal with other things.

Mrs. Hine understood my unspoken signals. She knew when I had a rough night and was tired. She would complement my math scores, even when I thought they were awful.

Mrs. Hine taught the whole school the importance that kindness makes. She was the one who had an idea for a buddy bench. She made sure each student knew the difference that they could make.

Mrs. Hine was far beyond a teacher, if not someone who you could connect with. She took teaching to a new level. Mrs. Hine would point out my strengths when I was upset about my weak points. She encouraged us to write to her during summer break, and always responded.

Mrs. Hine is the kind of person who you like to be around. She is not afraid of having a normal conversation with you even when you are her student. She always will look out for you. Just this year, she made sure that the teacher I had was one I liked. Having Mrs. Hine at school is like having a school mom. A pleasant warm feeling. Thank you, Mrs. Hine, for impacting my life.

Submitted By: Jaime Font, 6th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Nejad

Teacher's School: Coconut Palm Elementary and Science


Ms.Nejad was my science teacher at my old school. She was always supportive me and my classmates. She never got mad when we didn’t get the lesson she would just try to help us understand. To me she was like the best teacher in the world. One day she was acting weird so she gave us some news and she told us she had to leave to take care of her mother. She said it was going to be a while if we ever saw her again but we had a long term substitute.

Ms.Nejad cried until the end of the day. She left on Friday so we only had a week with her. I savored that last week with her and so did my classmates. Finally came Friday it was time for her to go. As she walked down the hallway all the students hugged her. As I got picked up I gave her one last hug. She told us she would come back for the science FSA to show us support.

It was my first day without Ms.Nejad but some kids were still sad about her leaving. I seemed to manage the day but I still missed her. There we were me and my classmates doing our schoolwork four days before the FSA I hoped Ms.Nejad would show up. My mom and her could still keep in contact with her through email. She said she would show up but, I had to focus on the writing FSA I was just hoping she showed up tomorrow.

Finally it was the day of the science FSA as I walked through the door there she was Ms.Nejad kept her promise and showed up to the science FSA. That day I was so happy but, the day of our graduation she showed up to congratulate us she told us her mom was ok and she was moving to California with her sister. She was still going to teach just at a different school. Overall I was happy and I was glad I got to see her again.

Submitted By: Gabielle Armentano, 7th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Millares

Teacher's School: St. Anselm School


When I was in 6th grade i had a language arts teacher named Ms. Millares. I'm in 7th grade now and i wish she could be my language arts teacher this year. She really inspired me to do my best in her class. My grades were a lot better in language arts thanks to her.

Ms. Millares really pushed me to do my best too. My test scores improved because of her explaining and making the things my class learned fun. She also did really fun activities that made things easier to understand and it really helped me be better in that subject. Lastly she was very energetic about what she was teaching and that made it fun too.

Another reason is she had a nickname for me and that made me happy every time that i came into her class. Ms. Millares even said very encouraging words to me and my classmates. She also made me be more confident in myself. She made me feel really excited to be in her class.

Lastly she was really kind and very respectful toward her students and she never got really mad, she always wanted me to try and do my best. Also she made you feel welcomed in her class and supported me. She never got mad at me because i made a mistake she was always patient on me.

In conclusion Ms.Millares was one of the best teachers i have had with my years in school. I was always confident and i tried my best because i knew I would have a good outcome in her class. I knew I could try had in her class too. She sometimes gave us starbursts when we did our best. That is why Ms. Millares was one of the best teachers in the world.

Submitted By: Hannah Barcomb, 8th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Komenik

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


My name is Hannah Barcomb. I just moved to Florida about a month and a half ago from Cleveland, Ohio. In sixth grade, I had a teacher named Miss Komenik. She was one of my favorite teachers ever for several reasons.

Miss Komenik was nice, helpful, and fun, but she also enforced the rules when she needed to. She was patient with the people that needed help, and she treated everyone equally. I can’t even remember one time that she was in a bad mood, and even if she was, she wouldn’t show us. Miss Komenik taught us language arts, social studies, spelling, and religion. We played fun games every week to help us with any topic that we were going to be quizzed on soon. We would go around the room, so everyone got a question, and would ask us a random question about whatever topic we were getting to get quizzed or tested on. Whenever someone won, we would get prizes such as a free homework pass along with other things. Miss Komenik liked to joke around and have fun, but she still made sure she taught us everything we needed to know. She even managed to go back to college while she was still teaching us at the same time. I don’t know about you but I think that’s pretty impressive.

Miss Komenik was an amazing teacher. She taught us what we needed to know, answered all of our questions, went back to college, and still had fun with us while doing all of that. She made learning fun, and even though I hate notes, she didn’t make them so bad and we would get breaks every once in a while. She gave us everything we needed and wanted us to succeed. Miss Komenik was outgoing, kind, and caring. I miss you so much, Miss Komenik!

Submitted By: Faizan Khan, 6th Grade Student

Teacher: Mrs. Flores

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


My 5th grade teacher Mrs Flores left the school in the middle of the school year. I was really sad because she was super nice and I missed her so much. She left when she was having a baby she inspired me and probably my whole class to never give up on your dreams. We hade a new teacher named Mrs O she was really nice but it was hard for teaching my class because we were very annoying.

Mrs Flores would know what to do. Someone was talking Mrs Flores to the rescue someone was eating in class Mrs Flores will save u. Mrs O was very sweet teacher but sometimes stuff would happen and everybody missed Mrs Flores when stuff was happening. Mrs Flores inspired me to never give up because in the 4th grade I was struggling in reading so I didn’t get a good grade on the FSA so Mrs Flores spent some 1 on 1 time with me and helped me some much that I got a 4 almost a 5 on FSA.

Every was so excited when Mrs Flores had a baby In her stomach but we forget that she was going to leave. One day Mrs O came to or class with Mrs Flores and she was showing all the stuff of reading lesson she said her final goodbyes after she left classroom. I still miss Mrs Flores and I remember the last time we ever saw her the 5th dance. We were all dancing and having fun drinking juice and pizza like kids do when we saw Mrs Flores walk out the door and said hey everybody. We screamed with joy and my whole class ran up to her and said MRS FLORES I will always remember my favorite teacher Mrs Flores.

Submitted By: Emily Alberto, 7th Grade Student

Teacher: Mrs. Trueba

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


I had the best teacher in the universe. She used to teach 5th grade at Somerset Academy, then worked at the Elementary office. She had to be the best teacher that I have ever had. Her name is Mrs. Trueba. She taught Reading, she taught Language Arts, and she taught Social Studies. She is a really funny person and has a great personality and is one of the smartest people that I have ever met.

First of all, Mrs. Trueba was always there when someone like me in my class needed help. She would ask the person that needed help if they are okay or would say, ”What is the matter?” The student would tell her and she would discuss it with the class so that everyone could hear her advice or if they had the same question or problem. Every time a student did not get a word, she would, one again, tell the whole class if one person missed that same word. She would really help our whole class with every question or problem.

The thing that really inspired me about Mrs. Trueba is that she would never give up on anything. She is also a very smart person. When I mean smart, I do not mean that she was a super genius or something, I mean that she is very smart about what’s around her. She knows what’s right and wrong and what I see is that she notices when something is wrong or right. I see a very smart teacher right there.

Mrs. Trueba is an incredibly smart, nice, and funny teacher. She would help the class with any appropriate question or problem. She is a very smart teacher. She would always see what is going on, like if a student needed help on a problem. Mrs. Trueba is the best teacher that I ever had.

Submitted By: Ludan Pierrot Massenat, 7th Grade Student

Teacher: Mrs. Trueba

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


Up until the fifth grade all of my teachers were usually ok. Most of them taught well but didn’t really personally affect me in any way. At least not until I met Ms. Trueba. She taught me a lot and changed me a lot more as a person. I grew to love others no matter the differences we have. She made me love to watch news and keep track of current events. She also made me generally love the material I was learning. For example I usually got really excited whenever we got to read the scholastic news magazine and read books like wonder. Another she did was she made me love writing and reading. And now I find it fun to sit back relax and enjoy a good story while on the couch or in bed or pretty much anywhere really. Most of the books we read in class would be really boring if we didn’t have an enthusiastic teacher like here who made the books suspenseful and a lot more interesting. She also taught a lot of tricks on how to fix my grammar and even though I don’t really like to write she made it easy for us and taught us a lot of ways to write which made it surprisingly easy for me. Overall Ms.Trueba was a really fun great teacher. She taught us a lot and she made me love reading again. I stopped reading around the 2nd grade because I just couldn’t seem to find a book I liked or most of them were just boring. But Ms.Trueba changed my outlook on all of that and generally made me a better person. And out of pretty much all of my teachers she taught the most and she genially changed my outlook on many things and she changed me as a person.

Submitted By: Abigail Viaud, 8th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Millares

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


Hi, my name is Abigail Viaud. Today I am going to talk about my 7th grade Reading teacher. I am currently in the 8th grade.

Her name is Ms. Millares & she helped me out with my reading and writing skills last year. She is a very sweet and kind person as long as you don’t cause any trouble and as long as you follow her directions. She is the type of teacher you can go to for ANYTHING it could be not-school related, it could be about your feelings, and it could totally be anything you can think of. She is a very happy spirit, and a kind hearted teacher. If you’d ever have Ms. Millares, there is no doubt that you wouldn’t improve her class. She doesn’t get frustrated when you get something wrong and she doesn’t get annoyed when you ask her for help because she is kind enough to do it with all the potential that is in her.

I remember walking to her class on my 1st year here at Somerset. I sat right in front of her desk. She asked me why I didn’t want to talk and its normal to feel shy on your first day and especially when you are new to a school. I was pretty good at English but I guess because I came from a country from multiple different languages, Intensive would help me out with my Grammar and my vocabulary. I don’t regret having her class in the 7th grade. She might have some days when you can tell she isn’t feeling well but somehow she manages to get a smile on her face atleast and teach you a great lesson and makes it 10x easier on you than a normal 7th grade reading class would be. She is like a ball of sunshine and I don’t regret taking her class last year. I’ve learned and developed so much in her class. She is an amazing teacher and I would recommend her to anyone who needs help with anything. Like she always says; “Have a magical day.”

Submitted By: Evenie L. Bonny, 8th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Marie

Teacher's School: Morning Star Christian Academy


I am not like the other kids. I don't like the trending annoying music they like listening to. I would most likely listen to songs with no curse words with my best friend. I was like the student that always does her homework. I had friends,though, but I felt left out when they were talking about what the other said in a text last night and somethings like that.

I first had Ms. Marie in first grade, but of course we all young and had recess .She would always be very nice with me. Sometimes she would tell me jokes and make me laugh. Ms.Marie made most off the class smile that school year.

The second time she was my teacher was in 7 grade.Their she had to be a little more strict with us because we were no longer kids.It was even harder for her with most of the class being disrespectful. But she still managed to make the whole class spend a good year. Ms.Marie is a good person she would never harshly punish the troublesome kids. She is a good person she reasons with you when you need to be reasoned. Ms. Marie showed me that making mistakes are ok, and no need to complicate your answers on a test just go straight to it. I am happy that I had the chance of having her as a teacher.

Submitted By: Martin Zamorano, 5th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Aguiar

Teacher's School: N/A


OK. . .so 5th grade is kind of difficult for me, because well all the students and other teachers that are like kind of strict. But there’s one teacher that changed my life and that’s Ms. Aguiar , because she is very kind and sometimes very fun. And its also how she makes everything fun but sometimes our class could be very disruptive and loud which makes her mad but she very nice and a very chill teacher. She changed my life by giving some tips and stuff in how to write and inspired me to write and for me to believe in my self and to never give up and look where I am now.5th grade, amazing at writing and also a good drawer at stuff like drawing an animal. But she is the one the inspired me to do all these stuff and now I’m a good kid trying to get good grades and yes I am getting good grades now.IN the beginning of school, I was nervous and afraid, because I never knew who I would meet or if someone might be mean to me but Ms. aguiar wasn’t what I thought she was. She was the best and I’m happy to have her as a teacher no matter what, because she is great.

Submitted By: Vanessa Chauvin, 8th Grade Student

Teacher: Mr. Craig

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


When I was little I used to get laughed at for the way I dressed or how I would dance but there was one person I used to always be excited to see on Sundays and his name was Mr. Criag. Mr.Criag was someone I always looked up too. He was my church leader for 2-3 years I think, I can remember how when we got into a circle I would always draw right next to him or how at worship I would always dance next to him and I felt like that was a safe place and I could always talk to him. I remember that he was switched to go work with the boy groups and I was really sad because I didn’t want to go to a different church leader so I stayed with him and I was always the only girl. I really didn’t care and I was just happy that they let me stay with him. Every Sunday he would ask me if I wanted to go to one of the girl groups to see if I liked it and after about a month I finally wondered what it would be like and finally said yes. That day was probably one of the worse days at church I had ever had. It wasn’t that the people in the group were bad it’s just that I missed Mr. Criag. After that day I don’t think I ever went back to one of the girl groups or not that I remember. When I was 8 I was told that I was moving to Florida and I was really sad that I wouldn’t see him anymore. The last day I went to church I remember that I cried and was really sad I had to leave. After about a month a sent Mr.Criag a letter telling him about my new church and how much I missed him. A week or two later I got a message back and I was really happy that he saw my letter, In the letter he told me that he missed me in his group and letter was on the church postcard and I still have it to this very day. A year ago I went back to Georgia and I went to church to see him it was cool to see how much he changed he even grew a beard, that day brought back so many memories and reminded me of how much he helped me and was there to listen to my problems when I was little.

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Submitted By: Eddy Tobar

Teacher: Mr. Capo

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


I picked a teacher that teaches science at my school. He is very funny and he also teaches very goodly. A lot of people like him he is my favorite teacher. He has taught me a lot of different things that I like. He lets us do different things. He teaches science very the good he is also a very good teacher. He is brand new to this school but everyone likes him. He as inspired me so much I really like him. A lot of the times he says really funny things. He makes everyone laugh when he says some things. He has inspired me to be a good student in his class and to be a good kid. He and him get along really well we always laugh. Sometimes he gets really mad at people. I never get him mad because I am a good student and most likely his favorite student. I like him a lot. He will teach me a lot of things, he has already taught me some. Like how to respect people and how not to laugh at other people. When people say something funny I mostly laugh but now I don’t laugh I try to tell the people to be quiet if they are talking. Some people have a different opinion then me and I sometimes don’t like that he has showed me how to respect that and now I do respect other peoples opinion even though I don’t like it. That is why I really like him. That’s why he is my favorite. There are some more reasons like that he is young and he will hopefully stay in this school so I can go to his room and talk to him and help his class. He will always be my favorite.

Submitted By: Omar Torres

Teacher: Ms. Reeder

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


I remember when I was in 3rd grade, my favorite grade level, I had a group of friends. I was the dumb and artistic one , my other friend David was the funny one, my other friend Harman was the smart one, and my other friend Chris was the chill one. I was the smallest one in that group. Our teacher, Ms. Reeder, usually helped everyone in that group but I thought I was the smartest person. I soon got a lot of bad grades and started to think that I might fail that class. I tried to get my parent’s help, which worked but not too much.

I was still confused on our work but I wanted to seem cool not to ask the teacher. I tried my best for the best grades, but I kept doing terribly. I decided to try and ask my teacher for help. I thought it was going to be bad and hard but it really was easy. I lifted my grades up with the arms of paying attention and learning. I soon decided that I should ask for help on assignments. Sure, people might’ve called me a nerd, but I am smarter than them.

A few days and weeks went by. Ms. Reeder told everyone that it was snack time. My mom usually gave me a blueberry jelly sandwich that I hated, but it was better than disgusting cold nuggets. I would secretly give the sandwich to my friend Ishmael, who was one of my best friends. One day I got caught giving it to him by Ms. Reeder. I then got mad, but at the end of the day, I learned that I deserved that. I had to stop being picky and learn to eat that sandwich.

Ms. Reeder actually taught me a lesson which was to never lie and to always ask for help. Ms. Reeder, thank you for your help. You helped me all the way to 7th grade.

Submitted By: Ian Negroni

Teacher: Mrs. Saber

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


Admit it. No matter who you are, we all thought school was boring. But, why is that? Isn’t school supposed to be a fun place to learn, and challenge yourself? If that’s the case, then why are we all so bored? Probably the main reason is because of the way our teachers actually teach. It’s true that some teachers will speak in a low, monotone voice that makes you fall asleep. As a teacher, if you want to be interesting, then you need to be loud. Just like the students, you should be expressing yourself. Tell jokes every now and then. Make catchy songs so the students remember the topic you are learning about. And most importantly, explain in a way that all students will understand the material you are teaching them.

One teacher that I felt was the perfect example of this way of teaching was my second grade teacher, Mrs. Saber. Every time I walk into that class, I felt joy. She always made jokes, and made laugh constantly. She would right catchy songs, and interact with students in ways that I’ve never experienced in the 13 years that I have been born. She gave great live advice that has stuck with me for years. The thing that for some reason is engraved into my memory is when she told me, “If you want to succeed, and be an advanced student, you have to give it 110% no matter the circumstance. Just 1 silly mistake can make you lose a scholarship to UCF.” That advice has made me give all my effort into just 1 assignment. I always strive to do the best I can, and all that influence came for Mrs. Saber. If I could say thank you, I would because that teacher is the reason I am who I am. Mrs. Saber is the perfect example of what a teacher should be.

Submitted By: Ayden, 7th Grade Student

Teacher: Mr. Capo

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


This is my first year with Mr. Capo! HE IS A GREAT TEACHER. He’s always so nice to everyone. He treats you with respect! He’s also there to support you in class. I have had many teachers that won’t help me with something I don't get. Have you ever had a teacher that expects you to, literally get everything right? That's what Mr. Capo is not. He understands that it is OK to get things wrong. A student can make mistakes as long as they learn from them. Nobody is perfect at all. That's why it’s OK to make mistakes. Were humans and we are designed to make Robots are designed to make no mistakes at all. I wish I could see this within more teachers. The point in a teacher is to try to teach them all these things? Why? Because, this student can be very successful in the future. Just because of one teacher. Education may not be everyone else main thing. What if you play for a baseball team, and you want to make it to the collage team? They won’t accept if you have a bad GPA. That’s why it’s always important to have teachers like Mr. Capo. I believe we should have more like him. You’ll see the difference in your students. They will be different in their near future. They will be thanking you late because of how successful you helped them become. I want to thank my school for hiring Mr. Capo. I think it was a great choice hiring him and I want to thank you guys for that. I think we should begin to hire more people like him. Thank you Mr. Capo for everything you have done. Thank you for always being the fun teacher I needed to change my aspect of school.

Submitted By: Brianna Mahotiere, 7th Grade Student

Teacher: Mrs. Nasser

Teacher's School: Somerset Academy


To start off, I’ve never been a huge fan of politics or civics at all. In fact I’ve never liked the news or anything involving documents or presidents. In fact I couldn’t stand politics! Every morning last year, I loathed having to go downstairs because my dad ALWAYS had the CNN on before me and my brother went to school. Then as we were on our way to school instead of playing my absolute favorite radio 97.3, he would instead put MORE news for us to listen to. That happened until one day.

On August 15th, the first day of school, my first period was Mrs. Nasser. A dirty blonde teacher whom happened to be really nice and very humorous. Even though she already seemed like a great teacher since day one I happened to realize her class was Civics. I personally was a big fan of World Geography because that’s what I learned and loved last year. But World Geography was the cousin of my enemy…… POLITICS!!! At first I thought I was going to hate the class but little did I know.

By the second week I grew to start to enjoy the class. I’m not sure if it was the enthusiastic teacher or the class itself. The class is lively and not dull. Mrs. Nasser made the class enjoyable and much more amusing than I thought it would’ve been. Civics and just politics in general used to be so difficult to understand or learn. For example I now know Law of Blood in which I never knew before. She’s humorous and prepares proper lessons yet makes it pleasurable at the same time! I may have only met Mrs. Nasser this year but so far she has made learning about wars and documents more fun than I could ever imagine. Mrs. Nasser is a teacher who has changed my life here at Somerset Academy and I can’t wait to spend the rest of the year in her class. I for sure will never forget how she changed my perspective.

Submitted By: Luna Amaral, 7th Grade Student

Teacher: Mrs. Moreno

Teacher's School: Pinecrest Grove


During my eight years in Pinecrest Cove I think that overall it is a very great school. I can admit that I used to struggle with school and getting good grades during my early school years. I used to get really frustrated with myself because even if I studied for a long time every day I would barely pass my tests, and that was not enough for little me. A few years passed and I started 2nd grade. By that time I was exhausted with school and my grades. As I got in to the early months of 2nd grade, my grades improved tremendously. I was so proud of myself, but I was more thankful for my teacher Mrs. Moreno. There was something about her teaching habits and great energy, that were very fun and made me want to go to school and learn more.

As I went more in depth in my 2nd grade year, I started growing studying habits, and Mrs. Moreno, would help me to find better ways to make me more successful in my school life. Months passed and I started to get really lazy, so my grades dropped, I was so ashamed of myself, I had this amazing teacher and yet I didn’t show her how much I really liked to learn. So I decided to start studying again and I was determined to get good grades and work to the best of my abilities. So I did. The end of 2nd grade was sad because I thought I would never have another class with Mrs. Moreno, but I started 3rd grade and I was back in Mrs. Moreno’s class. I was thrilled! I kept on studying and trying my hardest to get good grades. I had her once more in 5th grade and she still loved every single one of her students, and still kept my learning experience fun.

Overall, I believe Mrs. Moreno made a huge positive difference in my life due to her kindness and how she didn’t give up on me or any other students.

Submitted By: Shannon Johnson, Art Teacher

Teacher: Ms. Norman

Teacher's School: Jefferson Elementary


There I was, sitting on the bench at recess. I didn’t understand. Why couldn’t I play today? I watched as all of the students with blue stickers ran around the blacktop, bouncing basketballs and trying, mostly unsuccessfully, to jump rope. I thought, “Maybe Ms. Norman just doesn’t like us.”

As a first grader, I didn’t yet understand the genius of Ms. Norman. I did know that I trusted her, and I looked forward to staring up at her 6’ 1” frame every morning, wondering what we would be making in class that day. She always gave us chances to collage, paint, and glue things together. I loved that.

I also knew that Ms. Norman was a real person. She had a sign on her desk, which said “cool as a cucumber” or “hot potato” - or something like that. I liked that she was honest with us about her feelings, and showed us that teachers could have bad days too. She treated us like we had a choice, that we could help her on her bad days, and we could help each other as well. I didn’t know at the time what a good lesson that was for me in my own recognition of my emotions, and how they could impact others.

This particular morning that I remember so vividly, I had been asked to put a red sticker on my shirt. I don’t remember Ms. Norman telling us much else. When I was asked to get in the back of the lunch line with all of the other red sticker kids, I was kind of confused. Then, when I was told I had to sit out at recess, I was angry, and even more confused. What had I done wrong?

I didn’t mention anything to my parents that night that I can recall. When I showed up the next morning, I wondered if I would be punished again for doing nothing. But I was pleasantly surprised, and then confused again, by what Ms. Norman told us. Now, the red sticker kids got to be first in line. And we played at recess, while the blue sticker kids had to sit on the side.

I had no idea at the time that Ms. Norman was opening up a very brave conversation in one of the only ways my young brain might understand. I admire her for unpacking this experience with us and teaching us about discrimination and racism at such an early age, bringing up things like the Civil Rights movement and the Holocaust. Ms. Norman also taught us about the war in Iraq, and didn’t shy away from difficult questions. She was a real person, and talked about the things we really wanted to know.

I’m sure that this lesson is part of the reason I discovered I loved to help others, and then became a teacher. I wanted to have the opportunity to be real with younger people - to show them that they are capable, thinking beings, and that they can make a difference. I credit much of this early instinct to Ms. Norman and her ability to get a class of almost all white children to consider what it might feel like to be on the other side of privilege.

Submitted By: Susy Betancourt, 3rd Grade Teacher

Teacher: Ms. Yaskin

Teacher's School: G. Holmes Braddock Senior High


It was the beginning of my junior year and I still had no idea what direction I wanted to go in as far as a career. I knew I had to begin applying for colleges and didn’t want to begin applying still be undecided for my major. I spent my entire life wanting to be a psychologist, till I spent my sophomore year taking two endless classes: Psychology and Anatomy that were both required for anybody who was even interested in becoming a psychologist in the future. I elected to take an Early Childhood Education Level 1 class as a fresh start to my junior year. My Early Childhood Education class teacher was named Ms. Yaskin. She had been teaching Early Childhood for over 25 years. The first week she discussed the expectations of the class and I remember asking myself “Can I really do this? Do I have what it takes to be a teacher?” My high school had a pre-school and we would be working directly with the young students involved in lesson planning and teaching. Ms. Yaskin led me every step of the way throughout the entire year. She taught me how to successfully create productive lesson plans and always had great strategies/activities to use during my teaches. I admired her patience because her job was not easy. She taught us high school students, supervised the teachers and had to keep an eye on the pre-school students too. She observed me a couple of times when it was my turn to teach and always offered great advice on what I could work and praised me on a job well done. At the end of the year, I was even awarded Teacher of the Year. I then knew that I wanted to major in Early Childhood Education and become a teacher. I even continued my last year, as a senior to take the Early Childhood Education Level 2 class and will never forget all the wonderful things she taught me. She is a huge part of why I am teaching in a classroom today. I still keep in contact with her and never fail to thank her for being such a huge impact in my life. My love for early childhood students grew and flourished while I was a student in her class and I will forever be grateful. It’s because of her I am a teacher. I am an educator!

Submitted By: Catherine Flaherty, Art Teacher

Teacher: Mr. Pittenger

Teacher's School: Morgan Fitzgerald Middle School


He was stocky with a receding crew cut, thick glasses and a voice deeper than the Grand Canyon. He could teach our class equations-PROFICIENTLY-from a reclined office chair and feet up on his desk. His name is Mr. Pittenger and he was my 6th grade math teacher. Mr. Pittenger had a way of controlling our class without standing up or raising his voice. You see, he was a former military man, and used that experience, his deep voice, and a little sarcasm to keep the class in order. Troublemakers stayed in line, the slackers got moving, and the well-behaved were commended in Mr. Pittenger’s class. He wasn’t the conventional teacher and probably didn’t take classes on differentiated learning or redirecting behavior, but students were in line and material was instructed. Most importantly, we learned algebra.

Back in the 6th grade, I was quiet, reserved, studious and excelled in school. I was thin, pale and anemic. I had a small circle of friends, but didn’t have much fun. I was also an easy target for Jennifer V., a big bully in our 6th grade class. As I was walking home one day at dismissal, Jennifer V. hit me with her bike in the middle of 142nd Avenue. I laid there in the road, stopping traffic, crying and bleeding, with a sprained ankle…until Mr. Pittenger and Mr. Redman arrived. Mr. Redman was another favorite teacher of mine. Imagine a red bearded lumberjack and you’ve envisioned Mr. Redman. Effortlessly, they scooped me up and carried me inside the school. I returned to school a few days later, fearful of the repercussions of Jennifer V. and my mother, who now had a vendetta to fulfill against the bully. To my surprise, Mr. Pittenger and Mr. Redman presented me with a veggie tray and a message: ‘You were so heavy being carried in after your “accident” that we thought you could use this to lose a little weight.’ Again, not a conventional, “teacher move” but it made me, and more importantly, my mother, LAUGH. The rest of the year went off without a hitch. I recovered, started to stand up to Jennifer V. and earned all 4 PRIDE awards at the end of my middle school years. I began babysitting for Mr. Pittenger’s two sons all through high school. Mr. Pittenger and his wife, Jan, treated me like family.

At the end of high school, I was pondering the next course in life to take, law enforcement or teaching. I turned to Mr. Pittenger, also a former military police officer. He could see my angst in wanted to get started right away and steered me towards law enforcement. Note that by the end of high school, I was no longer the quiet, reserved young girl but rather an outspoken and fun-loving teenager. Everything fell into place and I became a Clearwater police officer at the age of 19. For the next 14 years I worked in patrol, training, was an undercover detective for several years and eventually taught in 14 elementary schools as “Officer Friendly.” Mr. and Mrs. Pittenger came to my wedding. Occasionally, Mr. Pittenger and I would meet for breakfast and I would share interesting cases from work with him. We caught each other up on the paths of our children. His sons followed in his footsteps and joined the military. Mine were still babies. He continued to ask me to call him Jim as I was now an adult and had four kids of my own, but I couldn’t. He would always be Mr. Pittenger to me. As life does, mine had its peaks and valleys. I have been an Art teacher at Plato Academy for the past 5 years. I’ve fulfilled both my dreams I once had as a high school graduate…and many more unsuspected ones. That is a story I now share with students. You can be anything you want…and more. I haven’t spoken to Mr. Pittenger for several years, but our last breakfast included an invite to his cabin in Tennessee. The kids and I could vacation there and visit him at his new job at Dollywood. I could share that I am now, also, a proud parent of a soldier. My oldest son is18 and is now a Marine. I think I’ll go call the man with the heart and voice deeper than the Grand Canyon and tell him, “Thank you, Mr. Pittenger, for being my teacher.”

Submitted By: Katalina Vacchione, Teacher

Teacher: Mr. Denton

Teacher's School: Victory Ridge Academy


Last year I had the privilege of being a paraeducator for Brian Denton. This allowed me to see firsthand his work with his students and his impact on them. He always had a way of engaging all students, finding ways for them to learn that they saw as fun as well as ways that overcame their learning obstacles, and creating smiles on the faces of even those who rarely showed emotion. This all was even more so inspiring to me due to the fact that our students are unlike most, they are very special students that require the upmost patience and structure. Some of these children could not read, could not stay focused, had emotional outbursts, and some that seemed to be stuck in shells so to speak. Yet, Mr. Denton found ways to connect to and teach every single one of these students.

Due to Mr. Denton’s guidance and the inspiration I received by watching him interact and teach his students, I am now a teacher myself this year. I actually teach some of the students he had last year. Still to this day they rave on and on about him. How awesome he is and all the fun things he did with them. They even remember what he taught them and often have those light bulb moments during lessons where they excitedly exclaim “Oh yeah, we learned that in Mr. Denton’s class!” As I mentioned, we have some very special students in our class so to have this kind of remembrance of things learned in the past is a big deal!

Thankfully for our students Mr. Denton is still a big part of our school. He is now our specials teacher, meaning, he has taken on the task of teaching our students PE, art, and music every day. This time is something that all of my students eagerly look forward to each and every day! He works with our kids on different art activities and physical education all while incorporating music, kindness, and teamwork. Not only do are students speak highly of his teachings, so do the parents. I hear them speak about how appreciative they are for everything he has done for their child, how he has really brightened their child’s life, helped them make strides that they did not know was even possible for their very special child.

My words do not even come close to describing the impact Mr. Denton has had on both myself and his many students. He is a great teacher who overcomes many obstacles personally and professionally and does not that get in the way of him teaching his students. He has such a high amount of patience and respect for students of all types, behaviors, and personalities and even manages to find ways to teach each and every one of these students. I could not think of a better recipient of this grant than him. Thank you.

Submitted By: Andreas Mandelos, Social Studies Teacher

Teacher: Mrs. Gligor

Teacher's School: Number 5 School Cliffside Park


Mrs. Gligor was my third grade teacher and she has left an everlasting impression on me. She not only taught me reading, writing and arithmetic, she taught me the importance of integrity. Her words and the lesson she taught me still reverberates and rings in my ears just as clear today as it did forty two years ago.

The story begins with a game of Simon Says. The competition was fierce. The class was engaged in a challenging game. Mrs. Gligor loved to play Simon Says with us; she believed it taught listening skills. In fact, her enthusiasm for the game was contagious. She rewarded the winner with praise and some trinket she provided in a treasure box. More importantly, Mrs. Gligor was a sweet woman in her late fifties, perhaps in her early sixties--in the twilight of her career. , and was a loving grandmother type which we all loved to please and hated to disappoint.

As the game progressed, I found myself one the few remaining players and was anticipating winning the game. She called the next command and another student was eliminated by her watchful eye. She called the next command and --oh no., I made a mistake. I waited for her to call me out but she didn’t. In my eight year old mind, I thought she didn’t see me and I just got a life line so to speak. But this presented a moral dilemma for me. I knew I was out even if no one else did even Mrs. Gligor. Out of respect for her, my classmates and myself, I thought it best to just sit down even though my error went unnoticed.

Mrs Gligor asked me why I sat down since I had not been eliminated. I told her that I should have been and how she missed my error. Well, the praise that woman gave me in front of the class is still one of the proudest moments of my life. She said that my behaviour was exemplary and how important integrity and honesty are. It has instilled in me the concept of winning or losing with honor is much more important than winning without it. I have used this all my life in many aspects--for example: teaching, coaching, relationships, etc. That moment validated me, my ethics, morals and sense of fair play. It has made me a better person, in essence, Mrs. Gligor made me a better person. I will always be indebted to her for her kind words spoken so long ago.

Submitted By: Julio Enrique Guilfulchi-Manley, 12th Grade Student

Teacher: Mrs. Benton

Teacher's School: Cornerstone Charter Academy


I have had a lot of influential teachers throughout my school career. At the start of my senior year I can say that My most influential teacher is Mrs.Betton. She told me one thing that has stuck and that was “No matter what people say or do around you. You are you for a reason god made you that way for a reason.” She has been there for me through everything personal and school. She is the reason that I am who I am because without her I would have not been here today. My freshman year me and her were both new to this high school. We made the best of it though laughing and joking in class all the time. She told me that she would never give up on me and she couldn’t wait to see me graduate.

The reason I chose her for this essay is because she is more than a teacher. She is a best friend, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to make jokes with all in one. She is like a mom to me. Mrs.Betton was the only reason I have started to really focus on school and become better in class. I am a student-athlete which means I must keep good grades to play sports. She helps me with anything I need especially my math. I have never had a person come out to so many of my games besides my dad. I tell her everything, my real mom had left me at eleven months old and when I told her that it was like second nature that she started to take care of me like one of her own sons. She is an amazing person even though she doesn’t have a ton of teacher awards when you first meet her it seems like she has won a ton of awards.

How is she so influential you may ask? Well my freshman year was a hard year at the start and then I started working hard and I past our final in math with one of the highest scores of the freshman class. Then I started taking honors geometry and had the highest average in the class all year. Then last year junior year I had an offer for a college for both academics and sports. After injuring I was rejected because my grades started to fall since I was out of school for a while. As soon as I got back and got caught up my class work with her help my grades started to go back to normal. These past couple years have been hard, but she has kept me in check with everything. I came to this school with a bad record including grades and getting in trouble. Now I am a stellar student and known as a leader.

Starting in this new school was hard I had no friends and I had no clue what this school was like. I’m not going to lie I was scared. Now I’m a mentor for freshmen that are just like me. I have had so much fun these past years because one teacher changes me completely around. I was in a bad part of my life losing my mom at a young age, my grandmother passing because of cancer, then my dad going through his second divorce. Do you know any teacher that answers late at night because you need help with what you are going through at home? I was scared my life was in a whirlwind but when she talked to me and calmed me down. It was all better like she stopped it like any mom would do for their son. Now she is my teacher and she did it. I almost died of an overdose the first person to call me was her and it meant a lot because I felt like someone was there for me.

Mrs. Betton a mom, teacher, and a huge influence. This amazing woman has done countless things for her family and students. If that isn’t enough for a high impact teacher idk what is because she impacted me so much. What senior only needs to 3.5 credits to graduate for his last year? This woman deserves more than what she has got. That doesn’t mean awards but what she has compared to what she deserves is crazy. This is my most influential teacher and mom.

Submitted By: Curtis D. Ellis, Principal

Teacher: Mrs. Griffis

Teacher's School: Fargo Elementary School


Growing up on the edge of the Okefenokee Swamp, I was the typical backwoods boy – eat, sleep, breathe hunting and fishing—until I entered Dorothy “Dot” Griffis’ second grade classroom. She did not just teach the three R’s; she introduced us to a whole new world beyond the piney woods of Southeast Georgia.

Mrs. Griffis was the sweetest lady I ever met. She charmed each of us with such southern gentility that we would have tackled an angry bear for her. However, instead of tackling a terrible bruin, she beguiled us into tackling local history, national treasures, public speaking, creative writing, scientific inquiry, dramatic and musical performances, and many other fun and interesting activities, the likes of which sheltered children from non-educated households in the middle of nowhere would not otherwise be exposed.

Thanks to Dot Griffis, I developed a love of learning and decided early in my life to follow in her footsteps. Not only did I major in elementary education but also was privileged to conduct my student teaching in her classroom and then later teach with her for three years at my old elementary school and in her old, my old second grade classroom. What a dream!

Although teaching in my hometown was a special experience, I kept dreaming of the world beyond the cypress trees, the world to which Dot Griffis exposed us. Eventually, I spread my wings and migrated to new frontiers where I, too, inspired new generations in my many educational roles, which included superintendent of schools.

Currently, I am a retired Georgia educator and am an active Florida educator, but my heart remains in the swamps of South Georgia with an octogenarian named Dorothy Griffis who still inspires and is still making a difference through her many community volunteer endeavors.

Submitted By: Melissa Brown, Chief Operating Officer

Teacher: Ms. Lewis

Teacher's School: N/A


Ms. Lewis has worked tirelessly to close the achievement gap and had the second highest scores in our building. In addition, she's a true team player. She is always willing to help and goes above and beyond on a daily basis to support students, staff, and the administration team.

Submitted By: Scarlett Trotter, 6th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Karel

Teacher's School: Global Outreach Charter Academy


Have you ever had a teacher who changed your life forever? I have, and it all started in Pre-K. In that year I met the most wonderful teacher ever, Ms. Karel. She was with me in Kindergarten and we just stuck like glue. She would tutor me and would help me if I ever needed it. Here is our story.

In Pre-K, I was more advanced than other kids. Only a few teachers noticed me, but one stood out of over the others. Her name was Ms. Grace Karel. She saw more potential in me than other teachers did. So much that she pulled me into her Kindergarten class while I was still in Pre-K. The next year I was in Kindergarten, but Ms. Karel taught at a different school. My parents chose to pay for me to go to this private school she taught at! After a few months they couldn't afford it and it was too long of a drive from home. So then I finished Kindergarten in a different school.

When I went to that new school Ms. Karel still would check up on me and my family. We would go out to eat and she would come over to our house and we would hang out. She would tutor me and help me in school. I was falling behind in 4th grade because of homework and Ms. Karel came to help me. She was like my superwoman and she still is now. She eventually got married and became Mrs. Jackson. It took some time to get used to calling her that, and I still to this day need to get used to calling her that, but it's ok because she married a wonderful man and is happy. So Ms. Karel, or Mrs. Jackson, it doesn't matter to me, because I will always love her.

Now I am 11 years old, and Mrs. Jackson is still one of my biggest role models. We still hang out and have so much fun. She will still help me if I need help, even outside of her classroom. She will still tutor me if I need it. Now I'm in 6th grade and Mrs. Jackson is my teacher again at a new school! She now helps me even more, and I get to see her more too. Ms. Karel has always been there for me and was even there for my birthdays. We always had so much fun together and we still do. One of the things we would love to do together was art and we also would bake stuff like cupcakes together. It's great having a teacher who made a big impact on my life become my teacher again.

That is our story about how I met Ms. Karel and how she helped me grow and how she became Mrs. Jackson and is still always there for me when I need it the most. She also became my teacher again after all those years. My journey with Ms. Karel is the best journey I could ever ask for. I bet you will never find a teacher as awesome and caring as mine.

Submitted By: Anjali Bala, 6th Grade Student

Teacher: Mr. Carmichael

Teacher's School: Global Outreach Charter Academy


This teacher was amazing. I choose him because he helped me recover from something that could have been a disaster for me. So here is a little backstory.

I used to have a friend named ‘Hannah’. She was my best friend at that time. But then she just stopped talking to me in 3rd grade. I didn’t know why it just came out of the blue. I was so sad and instead of paying attention to class, I started to make a ton of reasons why she left me and it wasn’t healthy. Somehow fate gave me a couple more chances and I passed 3rd and 4th grade (this is where my teacher comes in and my life really did change; probably for the best).

His name is Mr. Carmichael. He was my math teacher. It was the 3rd day of school. And I got caught while daydreaming. I was so scared of him and committed myself to study harder from that day onwards. I started doing better in math. He was talking about grades and I was surprised when my report card said I had a B because if I remember correctly that he said no one got A’s and only one person got a B. That was me.

For once I actually did something right (also one more thing happened when Hannah stopped talking to me was that I wasn’t really thinking highly of myself). Mr. Carmichael didn’t have to say anything, but he pushed me out of my dreaming mode and showed me that I shouldn’t just wonder why she left me; I should just let go and go on with my life. I should focus on studies and not to worry about why she left me and that I have amazing friends that she will never have.

And that’s my story about how my 5th grade math teacher changed my life completely and for the best. And I hope that one day I can do the best in math and live life to the fullest.

Submitted By: Jenny

Teacher: Mr. Jeff

Teacher's School: Rising Sun Montessori


Mr. Jeff is the most dynamic teachers I have ever met. His enthusiasm to teach children is incredible. Mr. Jeff brings his best to everyday and always goes out of his way to make every child he instructs to feel special and accepted. I am blessed beyond words that my twin girls have had the privilege to be part of his class.

Submitted By: Noemi, 9th Grade Student

Teacher: Ms. Nowak

Teacher's School: Port of Los Angeles


Last school year I had bumps and bruses metaphorically of course, but I have a hard time finishing work by the due date and she would get to school early on an unpaid schedule and help me then stay late evenings just so there enough time to finish work and she is the teacher that I wanted to see every day because she helped me out so much.

Submitted By: Mark Gable, Principal

Teacher: Ms. Begum

Teacher's School: Caniff Liberty Academy in Hamtramck


Ms. Begum has been a teacher of Caniff Liberty Academy in Hamtramck. She came to America as a teenager without speaking any English. Her parents sacrificed everything to ensure their children can have better lives. Through family support and hard work, Marjea learned to speak English, read, write and eventually graduate from high school. Marjea went on to college to become a teacher for a community with a high ESL population, nearly 80%. She has been an inspiration to many immigrants coming to America and models hard work and goals can make dreams come true. The logo for Caniff Liberty Academy is Lady Liberty and Ms. Begum is a shining example of why America is a beautiful place for people around the world to thrive for future generations.

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Submitted By: Amara Lee Brenner, Teacher

Teacher: Mr Benton & Ms. Dutton

Teacher's School: Sycamore Valley Academy


There are times when your life stops and pivots. If you are lucky, life grants you the time to pause. If you are wise, you make a careful, informed decision. It is in the times that life doesn’t grant you the time, that the heroes reveal themselves. This was the beginning of Sycamore Valley Academy.

Let’s start at the beginning.

Once upon a public school, there was a little girl, prevented from going out to her recess because she didn’t finish the task at hand. Her kindergarten assignment was to color, cut and paste. She was busy with something else. She did not finish the task. Thus, she stayed in. Her mother comes to pick her up at school and asks about her day.

“What were you doing while the rest of the class was coloring?” asks her mother.

“I was reading.”

When it was revealed that this little girl was Gifted, and well beyond coloring and pasting, her teacher gave her a puzzle in the corner, while the rest of the class did worksheets. The mother tried to work with her teachers, but her daughter was always over there, in the corner, separate, special… bored and lonely.

The pivotal moment for this mom, this daughter, was a Halloween night eight years ago. On that late night, that mother crossed her fingers, filled out the right paper work, answered the door to Trick-or-Treaters and started her own charter school.

The application was accepted. Ruth Dutton had begun Sycamore Valley Academy.

Of course, all good stories have a twist. This story is no different.

Let’s start again.

Once upon a wish, my little sweet boy was born in 2008. He was a cubby little wonder, like all little babies. Unlike the other child, gifted in so many ways, my child was not. His gifts were hiding behind a neurological disorder. I knew regular kindergarten was not for him, nor was Special Education. My little boy and her little girl were both square pegs in a round world.

I looked around my town, my county and I put him on all kinds of waiting lists. One of which was Sycamore Valley Academy.

In kindergarten, he slept under the table. In first grade, no one from his class came to his birthday party. In second grade, I had the dreaded meeting with his teacher. I knew what she was going to say. As I walked into the meeting, the administration was already set up and waiting, too. I swallowed, and smiled, waiting for them to tell me all the ways my boy did not measure up. And here is the miracle.

Mr. Benton discussed his writing growth, not his writing grade. Mr. Benton told me about the friend he had, and told me stories of them both chasing and laughing together. Mr. Benton was encouraging that relationship, and using it to foster more social skills and emotional growth. The teacher tried to interject and tell me how he compared to the other kids, to his peers, to the normal ones, the regular ones. Mr. Benton told me a different story, of a little boy who was blossoming, in his own way, in his own time and growing, growing, growing. All I heard was, “I see your son’s gifts are hiding. We are going to find them and showcase them.”

When my boy started fourth grade, I started my first year as an Sycamore Valley teacher. I walked my children up from the parking lot and Mr. Benton called both them both by name, as he does with every other child in the school.

Mr. Benton has the skills to run a school, to run a business, to keep the kids safe and learning, to write a lunch schedule, to pass the fire inspection. What sets Mr. Benton apart is that he has another set of skills: He sees the child, not the test score; he sees the sadness hiding behind the angry outburst; he loves the little one still growing inside the big kids. Mr. Benton sees potential, not problems.

The story of two children intersect at Sycamore Valley. Each one found a place to be free, to be loved, to be valued, to be strong, to be educated. Neither square peg had to change themselves to fit in. Mr. Benton makes sure of that.

Ms. Ruth Dutton made the school but Mr. Benton made its heartbeat."

Submitted By: Norm, Spanish Teacher

Teacher: Mr. Scott

Teacher's School: Reseda High School


Mr Scott wrote copious instructions on the board. For example, "draw a circle, place a triangle in the circle, in each corner draw a trapezoid, place 4 rectangles in each corner, bisecting all with a jagged line, " etc. However, he prefaced the following sentence before the minutia....."Read instructions before performing any task." At the bottom of all the circuitous tasks that awaited their execution, was the following: "now that you've read all the instructions, put your pen/pencil down and do nothing!" I will never forget Mr Scott's incredible lesson on the importance of following instructions! To this day (after 25 years of teaching), I still use this "tour d'force" to impress this lesson upon my students!

Submitted By: Bobbette Gilliland, K-12 Visual Arts Teacher

Teacher: Ms. Bratt

Teacher's School: Sahuaro High School


My art mother I used to call her. That was Lita Bratt. Ms. Bratt was my high school art teacher from Sahuaro high school. Her cupboards were the most organized things I ever saw. I loved that about those cupboards! I loved everything about that art room and I could do just about anything in there. Ms. Bratt saw to that. Ms. Bratt had designed the entire curriculum for all the two and three dimensional art classes. She had lapidary and jewelry equipment, clay, a potter’s wheel, even a beautiful floor loom. Lita saw to it that I learned. I had technical ability what with her guidance, but more importantly, I felt innovative and creative around Ms. Bratt. I was determined and I was willing to work hard to achieve my goals. I was enthusiastic and I loved to learn by doing. Finding solutions to projects became my joy.

I hope to think I became an experienced enough teacher over the years by dedicating myself to teaching my arts and crafts as a true craftsperson just the way Lita did.

Submitted By: Carole Hall, Undergraduate Researcher

Teacher: Mr. Eicher

Teacher's School: Classical Academy High School


Mr. Eicher was my geometry teacher in my freshman year of high school. At the time, my aspiration was to become a lawyer when I grew up, mostly to get out of doing math. However, during my time in Mr. Eicher's geometry class, he helped me discover that not only was I capable of understanding mathematics, but that anyone has a passion for mathematics contained somewhere in them -- it just takes the right experience to tap into it. Mr. Eicher's obvious love for the subject he taught and his true desire for his students to understand made me believe that mathematics was something that I didn't just have to do to get through high school; I could genuinely enjoy what I was doing and see it in the world around me. When my freshman year too-quickly ended, I could not imagine no longer being a student of Mr. Eicher's. He also taught AP Statistics (a class I was itching to take based on Mr. Eicher's animated discussions on statistics), however the prerequisite to take this course was precalculus; I therefore planned to take a community college summer course to expedite my journey to AP Stats. I put so much effort into studying for the mathematics placement test to be sure I was to take Algebra II in the summer after my freshman year, that I ended up testing out of Algebra II and being placed in Precalculus -- a dream come true! After pushing myself to the limit to prepare myself for AP Stats with Mr. Eicher, I concurrently enrolled myself in Calculus I at the community college; mathematics had now become an almost fluent language to me. I craved it in every aspect of my life and looked forward to doing my homework. During my time in AP Stats, Mr. Eicher enthusiastically supported me in my efforts, and suggested for me to compete in mathematics competitions and even nominated me for an award from the California Mathematics Council. By my junior year of high school, I was enrolled in Calculus III and Linear Algebra, while I was a teaching assistant for Mr. Eicher. At any point that I had finished the work Mr. Eicher needed me to do for his class, he would tailor to my interests stimulating problems for me to do, such as proving integral and other mathematical identities, as well as creating models of data from different classes. Because of Mr. Eicher, I graduated a year early from high school since I had completed the entire community college mathematics curriculum, and immediately went to the University of Minnesota to further pursue my passion for mathematics. I currently perform research in enumerative combinatorics and additive number theory; I have presented my findings at regional conferences and am in the process of publishing my work. If it weren't for Mr. Eicher, I would never have discovered the beauty of mathematics that I now cannot go a day without exploring further. Thanks to Mr. Eicher, I now have a lifelong journey to further an entire field, as well as my own character, in a way that will never grow old to me.