Mrs. Leighton has been an inspiration to me since my sophomore year, when I was in her Honors English 10 class, which is also the year I joined Nansemond River's Scholastic Bowl team. In class, we simulated George Orwell's "Animal Farm" and analyzed a murder/mystery podcast called "Serial," even taking on the role as the defendant's lawyer for our final presentation, which was the highlight of my and many of my classmates' year. Her assignment to the AP Language and Composition played a huge part in my own decision to take the class, and because of her and her excellent teaching skills, despite having never taught an AP class before, many of my classmates and I scored 4's and 5's on our AP exams, although most of us had never taken an AP class prior to Mrs. Leighton's.
Outside of class, Mrs. Leighton gave our team her all; 2016 was her first year coaching the team, but she dedicated herself to us. She held practice two to three times a week, and she familiarized herself with every aspect of the competition. She has now coached the team for three years, and she has continued to dedicate her time and attention to us, and the team has only gotten better: this January, we made it to Regionals, where we tied for fourth, an accomplishment we had yet to achieve.
She has inspired me in so many ways: she has encouraged my passion for writing and literature, she has inspired me to consider a career as an English teacher, and she has, in every way possible, become my mentor. She has helped me through numerous personal struggles as well, always lending an ear, advice, and support. Although I struggle with self-confidence, she has always reminded me that I'm beautiful. Although I struggle with depression, she has always been able to put a smile on my face. Although I'm nervous to enter the next stage of my life as a nearly-independent adult, she has always encouraged my strength and capability.
I am so grateful to have been her student, for I know much of my academic and personal growth is due to her aid, and I know I am not the only one who feels this way. Mrs. Leighton has a heart of gold and impacts every life she touches for the better; I can think of very few who deserve this recognition as much as she does.