Essay Contest Gems

CSF supporters O.A.R. are sponsoring an essay contest that asks children to explain why their teacher deserves a Best Teacher Award. Hundreds of students have submitted their entries, and several trends emerge:

  • Candy counts. Students really remember when a teacher brings in candy and other treats to celebrate holidays and birthdays at school. Briana C. and Justin D., both in 2nd grade, write: “What we like most about her is that she makes us cupcakes and always respects us.”
  • All is forgiven. A lot of the essays note those days when students push their teachers too far. Still, even if the teachers yell, the kids seem to understand that the teachers have their best interests at heart. Saba I., 4th grade, admits, “Sometimes the class has behaved badly towards her. Yet, she has the ability to forgive. Many people think she screams a lot. She really screams at us because she loves us.”
  • Just because kids are wearing uniforms, don’t think they aren’t fashion-forward. Genesis M., 5th grade, praises her teacher for telling her to never stop trying but adds, “Now, let’s talk about her style. She has cool clothes: diamond decorated vests, pants with stripes and she has a beautiful plain dress.” And Madeline B., 4th grade, makes a final pitch for her teacher saying, “He is a good man and a good dresser too.”
  • It’s the little things. From Therese A., 5th grade: “He gives you a tissue anytime you sneeze. To me those are called manners.” And Adesuwa O., 1st grade, reports, “Now I can say and write my complete home address and phone number.”
  • If in doubt, challenge the judges. Some of the essays praise teachers in a somewhat circular and confrontational way. Take Gilbert R., 6th grade, who writes: “So if you ask me, yes you should choose my teacher. So I say that you either pick my favorite teacher ever or pick no one else.”
  • Teachers change lives. Angel F., 6th grade, begins, “I was a kid that didn’t know English.” He writes about how relieved he felt when he met his teacher and found out she spoke Spanish. After a few weeks learning in Spanish, he began transitioning into English, until “she told me that I was learning so fast that she was so proud of me. Then some kids in the class starting talking to me. Then I began to participate in class.”
  • Teachers are everyday heroes. From Ruth R., 6th grade: “I would like to tell you that Ms. D. has climbed Mount Everest, walked on the moon, or won an Olympic Gold Medal, but it is not true. Ms. D. is an ordinary woman doing an ordinary job, day in and day out. However, in my eyes she is a hero.”
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