Below are paragraphs taken from nominating letters submitted in previous years. We thought that it might be useful to nominators to see what kinds of comments and descriptions the Selection Committee found helpful.
Teacher V believes that it is her duty to establish a rigorous learning environment within the classroom to enable student centered learning. A testament to this is my visit to her AP Calculus class two days ago. Students were working in groups of four on problems requiring implicit differentiations that were at the level of AP Calculus BC open-ended questions. The students created the solutions, articulately presented those solutions to their peers, critiqued and discussed each other’s work, and mastered the content while the teacher strategically injected questions to enhance the discussion. In the middle of the class, a student filled with pride from a successful presentation, blurted out, “This is the best class ever!” I went over to ask him why he had said that, and he replied, “Because we learn so much here.” And the test results bear him out.
However, the attribute that makes Teacher V a special teacher is that she addresses the affective nature of the students with the same vigor that she applies to their intellectual nature. Her disposition toward students is welcoming. At any time of the day and well beyond the end of school, one will find students in her room. Many come for extra help. Just as many are there doing service projects as members of the National Honor Society which she advises, honing their skills to participate in mathematics competitions for which she is a coach, working on projects as members of our Math Club which she also advises, coming in for emotional support or advice, or just taking a rest in a warm place from an emotionally charged world.
If there is a committee that will improve the quality of education in our school, Teacher W is either on it or chairing it. He recently collaborated with the history department in creating an interdisciplinary unit based on The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass. It was extremely well received by both students and teachers, and he is hard at work thinking of other ways to energize instruction. On the school or district level, this teacher is a “go-to person.”
Amazing as he is with subject content, where he really soars is in his rapport and interaction with his students. Whether they are highly motivated honors scholars or struggling to pass the HSPA, he gives them the emotional support and guidance they need. I have seen him take his prep periods to counsel and mentor troubled students who just need someone to listen to them. Students can always tell when teachers really care about them, and they flock to Teacher W because of his genuine concern and gentle humor. He knows that young people learn best when their minds are engaged while their spirits are nurtured. I am always happy when my former students have this teacher, because I know they are in safe, strong hands. I know that he will encourage them to reach their fullest academic potential while he boosts their self esteem.
I had the unique opportunity to know Teacher X in a special way, because she was my mentor during my first year of teaching, and now she is a colleague. I see her give the same intense dedication to every one of her students as she did for me. She helps each one of them to believe that, no matter how bad their home lives may be, they can be successful in life. She helps them to find reasons not to believe the stereotypes about the town they live in or the economic situations they come from. She helps them to see something more that many would never realize otherwise. She helps them to see that they can make good lives for themselves.
Her dedication to her students is unparalleled. She stays for hours after school tutoring the students who can’t quite get something right. She won’t let them give up, because she never gives up on them. Many of her students say she is a difficult teacher, because she won’t accept less than their best from them. Many more of her students say that she’s the greatest teacher they’ve ever had because she showed them how to learn and how to believe in themselves the way she believes in them.
Throughout my career, I have had the honor of working with many distinguished teachers who have inspired me to continue my path to lifelong learning. When one of those I supervise causes me to reflect on my own practice, inspire me and stimulate new ideas, I realize that I have been given a gift. Now beginning our sixth year together, I have been fortunate to serve as supervisor for Teacher Y in my roles as assistant principal and principal. During that time, parents, colleagues and students have continued to be impressed by his energy, determination, dedication and vision.
Many colleagues are able to describe how Teacher Y contributes to the success of his students in planning and implementing instruction, but his contributions go far beyond his instructional responsibilities. In his desire to serve students, he challenges himself and others to take risks and seek alternatives. In his quest for continued growth, he has served as a contributor and motivator in many roles that include grade level liaison to the technology department, member of the professional development committee, representative for the sciences on the district’s articulation committee, member of the county Science Expo committee, and a team leader in the school. Teacher Y brings a high level of energy, insight and expertise to all of the committees on which he serves.