It’s awards season in Hollywood and even though I can’t hand out any golden statues, I’d like to join the frenzy with a few of my own awards and give some Oscar-worthy thank you speeches to the educators who have helped me to get where I am today.
Award for encouraging creativity: Mrs. Woefel-2nd Grade
Thank you for teaching me how to write my last name correctly but also appreciating my creativity and humoring me when I argued that both the K and the E in McKenna were supposed to be capitalized. You always encouraged my artistry and you were the biggest fan of my drawings (right behind my mom and dad). You helped me to begin a life as an artist. I am also happy to report that I write my last name correctly these days.
Award for encouraging strength: Mr. Anibal-4th and 6th Grade
Thanks for always championing my competitiveness, encouraging me to be the athlete I loved to be and always believing that I could be just as good as the boys. And thank you for the humor, you always helped me to not take myself too seriously. I’ve continued to take chances as an athlete and played club rugby in college, competed in 3 triathlons/various road races in Philadelphia, I’ve gone surfing in Bali and been snowshoeing in the Pyrenees Mountains of France. I think the next goal is a marathon in NYC, we’ll see what happens!
Award for developing confidence: Sophie and Agnes-TEFL Paris
Thank you both for giving me the foundation I needed to enter into the field of TEFL teaching. Your incredibly relaxed style of teaching grammar and your way of encouraging me to take chances in the classroom has helped me to better understand how to share language with others. Seeing the way you allow your students to take hold of the reins in the classroom has also inspired me to keep working toward being a moderator rather than a director with my students. You gave me the confidence I needed to jump into this career with two feet, and I’m happy to report that I’m still afloat!
And now for the Excellence in Education Awards-given to a group of people who, even though I may have not known it (or shown my appreciation) at the time, have had the biggest impact on my learning journey thus far.
The English team of Bath High School
They deserve multiple awards for giving me the solid foundation that enabled me to become the writer and English teacher that I am today. It has been a pleasure to stay in contact with you all over the last 10 years and I have greatly enjoyed the transition from pupil to peer. I genuinely hope that we can sit down over coffee, tea, beer, wine, what-have-you, in the near future.
Mrs. Lewis-9th and 10th Grade
Thank you for showing me that it’s okay to be unique, it’s okay to be creative and it’s okay to break the mold. You helped build a true love of classic literature in me while still encouraging me to explore the contemporary resulting in a clear understanding of how old and new are connected. Your teaching style has had a lasting impression on me and I hope that my students have the same respect but also the same trust in me as a teacher and friend as so many of your students did with you.
Mrs. Murchie-11th and 12th Grade
It’s only as an adult that I realize why we butted heads so seriously during my time at Bath High School and in hindsight, I thank you for always challenging me and putting up with me! I now know that you were always trying to get the best out of me every day, not letting me squeak by with a 90% effort and for that, I thank you. I love that we have reconnected and have been able to share in our experiences and journeys. I would like to report that I am nearly finished reading The Color Purple and I am eagerly awaiting my post-reading assignment. I also look forward to seeing how you continue to improve and expand the English program at B.H.S. They are so lucky to (still!) have you.
Mr. Nobis-12th Grade
Thanks for helping me to tap into my love of music and writing. You helped me to see how journalism was the perfect combination creativity and practicality—in essence, how journalism was ME. Your continued mentorship and friendship have helped me to feel confident in my career decisions and have continued to influence my choices today. Yesterday I had the exciting experience of receiving a copy of my school’s fall 2011 newspaper. In the masthead I saw, for the first time, my name listed as a moderator of the Press Club. It was just as exciting as the first time I saw my byline in a copy of the Philadelphia City Paper. It’s funny how things come full circle isn’t it? Thanks for giving me the courage to be a writer, no matter what changes happen in the future, it’s the one thing I know I will always be.