Arrowhead High School students in Ms. Liz Jorgensen's English classes submitted essays recognizing their favorite teachers. Several Barnes and Noble stores selected creative writing students as winners in the My Favorite Teacher contest. Here is a link to the contest: http://www.
The following are Arrowhead High School students who were chosen as winners of the contest along with the teacher who the students' nominated:
Brenda Suhan nominated Mr. Andy Freeburg
Kaite Holowitz nominated Mrs. Heidi Hamilton
Heather Roehr nominated Ms. Rayen Singletary
The following are the winning essays submitted by Heather, Brenda, and Kaite:
Educator of the Year
Barnes and Noble Winner
It isn’t often that you come across a cardigan-wearing high school English teacher with interests ranging from skateboarding to poetry and from heavy metal to the latest fashion trends. But Mr. Freeburg, my AP English teacher, is quite the interesting character. When students can’t wait to get to class at 7:30 AM, you know that teacher has something special.
I have always had a love for English, but never could I imagine being taught by someone as engaging as Mr. Freeburg. Every student participates in class discussions, and we are encouraged to share our ideas – whether they are right, wrong, or somewhere in between.
Before Christmas break, we all brought in embarrassing photos of ourselves, exchanged them, and wrote a poem based on the photos. In turn, Mr. Freeburg unabashedly showed us an embarrassing photo from his teenage and college years each day the week before. One day the picture was one of his blonde flowing mullet; the next was another picture of his pink short shorts. Educational yet fun activities like these are what make the class feel like family.
|Mr. Andy Freeburg|
Arrowhead High School
One of the best traits of Mr. Freeburg is the attention he pays to individual students. He made a point to learn everyone’s names at the beginning of the semester, and he goes around the classroom and does a “weekend roundup” of our plans every Friday. He is truly interested in his students. Most importantly, he encourages every one of us.
If a student says something earth-shatteringly brilliant during a discussion, he karate chops the artificial cherry blossom tree in the corner of the classroom, jumps around with excitement, and gives the student a key from his box – the symbol of the ultimate scholar. And when he noticed I was working on a poem for a literary contest I learned about in his class, he screeched “POEM!” asked to read it, and then said, “You are a true ancient poet.” I laughed, but I knew he was sincere when he told me that I had talent and that I should keep writing. And I haven’t stopped since. On one of my papers he wrote on the top: “Reading this essay was like being dipped in gold!!” Funny yet encouraging feedback like this helps me feel confident that I can exceed expectations – and that is what learning is all about.
By Katie Holowitz
Nominating Heidi Hamilton
Barnes and Noble Winner
I never enjoyed school, and school didn’t enjoy me. I have always struggled with concentrating and organizing. In second grade, I was diagnosed with ADHD and ever since, I have been enrolled in classes for kids with learning disabilities. I have had countless teachers who’ve always been on my side. But these teachers acted as if I couldn’t function on a daily basis, making me feel like I couldn’t handle the real world.
As I entered high school, I thought I was going to be stuck with a gentile spoken lady, who treated me differently than everyone else. But as I walked into Arrowhead High School’s Learning Center, all I could hear was a loud voice, reverberating in my eardrums.
“Hey, Katie! I’m Mrs. Hamilton! I’m your new case manager!” she screamed.
I was in shock from her reaction. I was not used to a teacher being louder than the whispers in the hallway. But the best way to describe Mrs. Hamilton is exhilarating, compassionate, and feisty.
As I walk in the hallway, I easily spot Mrs. Hamilton. I mean, it’s pretty difficult to not notice a 6’4” lady, who looks like she belongs in the WNBA, marching down the hallway. As I walk in the crowded hallways, Mrs. Hamilton still manages to yell out, “Katie! Hi!” each time. I used to try and hide from her (because I was a little embarrassed), but over time, I thought it was special that she always noticed me; and I came to recognize she’ll always spot me and greet me.
|Mrs. Heidi Hamilton|
Arrowhead High School
Special Ed. Teacher
Mrs. Hamilton is a mother, coach, and a special education teacher. When I was little, I attended her basketball clubs, and I looked up to her. She was always energized, like she just won the lottery.
Mrs. Hamilton is a role model and she has inspired me to work with kids who also have learning disabilities. At my high school, Mrs. Hamilton runs the student panel for children with disabilities, which is a program to help get children with disabilities involved with other students. Mrs. Hamilton gave me the opportunity to join the panel and talk to students about my transition to high school, while struggling with ADHD. Mrs. Hamilton has had a huge impact on my journey and if it weren’t for her, I would have never made it where I am now—and that’s why she is my teacher of the year, and always will be.
Mrs. Hamilton has helped me every step of the way, including helping me apply to colleges and scholarships this year. When I look back on the past four years, I am thankful for Mrs. Hamilton. Teaching is so much more than a job for her—it’s her life, it’s her passion and it’s her purpose. Thank you, Mrs. Hamilton for everything you have done for me.
Selected as Barnes and Noble as My Favorite Teacher contest winner
Nominating Rayen Singletary
Honestly, English is probably my weakest subject. As I always put it, “I ain’t no good at that grammar thing.” I was below the curve when it came to my skills in English; however, my sophomore year, that all change. I began to understand grammar rules. And these changes took place because of one wonderful teacher: Rayen Singletary.
Ms. Singletary was the breath of fresh air that drab old English needed. “Life is more interesting with a little sauce,” is the mantra of my personal educator of a lifetime. From day one of sophomore English, I could tell I was going to be particularly fond of Ms. S; she introduced herself as a nerd and used the phrase, “lame-sauce.”
Quickly, I learned she loved theatre, and we bonded over this similarity. The bond I had with her allowed for a personal learning experience, and it also motivated me to try harder in the dreaded English. The last thing I wanted was to let down Ms. Singletary.
Throughout the course of the year, Ms. Singletary ensured she was available to aid with my essay writing and grammar, and with a little hard work and dedication, I was finally able to write grammatically correct essays. In fact, she still is willing to make time to help me with my essays today, even though I no longer have her as a teacher.
|Ms. Rayen Singletary|
Arrowhead High School
Ms. Singletary’s dedication didn’t only help me excel in the areas of English I struggled in— it also pushed me to give my all even to the parts of English that came easily to me. A personal strength of mine is public speaking, so I was ecstatic when I learned speeches made up a large portion of my grade; I thought, hey easy A.
But oh boy was I wrong because Ms. S graded on the philosophy of personal ability and she knew an avid theatre kid like me was capable of much more than my meekly prepared for speeches. So although I had some of the best speeches in the class, I would always end up with a B. “I know you could do better,” she always would reply. I thought I deserved an A, but in truth, I knew I didn’t.
By the end of the year, her persistence persuaded me to actually give the necessary effort in my speeches, and I did. Although the whole concept annoyed me at the time, Ms. Singletary taught me a valuable lesson about work ethic, and it’s one I won’t soon forget.
It is for her wonderful sense of humor, remarkable dedication, quirky sayings, and passion, that I nominate Ms. Singletary for this award. Ms. Singletary impacted my life that year in way she will never truly understand; she helped me improve not only my weaknesses, but also my strengths. Today I can write a decent essay, the first time, and I have Ms. Singletary to thank for that.