Student Nomination Story

My daughter Brooklyn struggles with anxiety which is something we did not know about when she started kindergarten last year. She would cry at school the whole day. Things that made her anxious were things like switching from desks to the Carpet. Or walking in the hall way to lunch or another class room. Any change in activity upset her. She would turn into a completely different person when it was time to go to school. It was crippling for her. She would refuse to get dressed and eat breakfast. We would have to get onto the bus with her and force her to get on it. Then we would leave her upset and crying which would make me cry and worry that she was going to be upset all day. My heart would break for her. This was something new to us and We were not sure what to do. Mrs. Mendez was a blessing that came into our lives. She took Brooklyn under her wing and made her feel comfortable at school when we couldn’t be there with her. She knew just what Brooklyn needed when we didn’t. She was the one who noticed that she was upset when they would change activity at school. She knew she would get upset riding the bus. She saw that she got nervous when the classroom was busy or loud. Mrs. Mendez would give her a sensory toy to take on the bus with her to help sooth her anxiety. She would also give her one in class. She knew that if Brooklyn was beside her, she felt safe, so she made sure she knew she had a place on the carpet right next to her. She knew if she held her hand in the hallway, she would not be as nervous. She knew when she just needed a few minutes to collect herself away from the busy classroom and had her sit off to the side for a minute until she felt better and could join the class. She did all this without embarrassing her. They were able to read each other. Mrs. Mendez would also send me a quick message on days when she was having a bad morning, and just let me know she was ok. Sometimes sending me a picture to let me see for myself that she was ok at school so I didn’t worry about her. I don’t know how we would have gotten through the year without her. After a couple months we started seeing a doctor for her anxiety. Due to the pandemic it has been difficult to work with her doctor, so we were super relieved when we found out that Brooklyn would have Mrs. Mendez again for first grade. The year started out perfect because Brooklyn knew she would be ok and that Mrs. Mendez was there and made sure she felt safe and cared for. Besides her being great, compassionate, and wonderful in reading her students and knowing what they need, she is also a academically wonderful as well. Brooklyn has gone up 5 reading levels since the beginning of the year, and this year is not even half way over yet. Brooklyn took those things that Mrs. Mendez taught her on how to handle some of her anxiety and helped another child at school this year. She has more confidence and doesn’t fight to go to school this year. She went from not knowing how to write her name or read because she was so nervous to try, to now reading at a level I this year. She also made sure Brooklyn had a friend at school that she could talk to and feel comfortable with. Even paired her up with someone that rode her bus so she could feel more comfortable riding the bus. We could not ask for a better teacher. Who knows where Brooklyn would be with her anxiety and school if Mrs. Mendez didn’t come into her life. She deserves any and every award out there. She cares so much about her students and will do anything and everything she can to help them.

Brooklyn Rotko

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