Student Nomination Story

Back in middle school, I moved to the states. It was a tumultuous adjustment period. A new school (Swallow) and a new culture to adjust to. It had only been a year since I moved and just when the tornado settled, the storm came: the divorce happened. I didn’t realize it then but I was in a dark spot. Sixty missing assignments and less than a 2.0 - I wasn’t thinking about academics. Had it not been for Mrs. Hagenow, I might’ve been consumed by this storm. She is the most patient, kind and caring teacher I’ve had the joy of being taught by. She hounded after me about the assignments I was missing from her; She made sure I wasn’t dozing off in class and pestered me to make sure I was staying on top of it all. Through these subtle things, she looked out for me. One of my biggest regrets is not seeing this effort. I called her the devil (and worse) and despised her. I felt like she had something against me. It never occurred to me that it was out of compassion. Only with her help, did I start making up my missing assignments. It began with her assignments, then with other teachers’ work. I was slow about it, but she was there ready to chase after me again if I ever stopped or slowed down from my turtle pace. From 60 to 40 to 20, I eventually made up all the assignments I could have turned in. I hadn’t fully recovered, my grades were still low. I was still in the eye of the storm, but now, there was a path of redemption. The silent care, through actions and not words, the thankless kind, she gave has prepared me. Now, in high school, I know to hound after teachers about my missing assignments. That I needed to take the initiative for my own academics for someone like Mrs. Hagenow won’t be there to chase after me when I slow down. Only now, that I see that you pushing me and chasing after me, was the reason I was able to get back up and start running. Only now, writing about it four years later, do I see the intentions you had. It is only now, that I thank you for everything you have done for me. Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for preparing me for the future. Thank you.

Andrew Hong

To see more exceptional teacher nominees, visit The Honor Roll.