Student Nomination Story

Let me start by saying that no amount of praise or kind words could ever adequately sum up all of the ways that Mr. John Fitzgerald has positively affected the students at my school. I feel as though I am writing this on behalf of all of the students at Benet Academy, because he truly makes an impact on each and every one of their lives. At the school I attend, there is a heavy emphasis placed on rigorous academics. All too often, teachers take advantage of the hard work ethic and personal drive of students by putting all of the responsibility to learn the material on them instead of taking the time to teach. Above these teachers who discourage students by creating impossible work is Mr. Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald is hands-down one of the only teachers I've met in my lifetime who genuinely wants students to succeed, not only in academics, but also in life. One strong example of his willingness to put his students' needs above his own in order to help them is his never ending pile of requests for letters of recommendation. Students only ask teachers who they feel they have a strong bond with to recommend them for programs, scholarships, and schools. The sheer number of students that ask Mr. Fitz to write letters of recommendation for them just goes to show how well Mr. Fitz is able to connect with students on a personal level. The bonds that Mr. Fitz forms with his students establish a relationship that goes beyond the classroom. If there is one teacher who truly wants his students to be successful in whatever they choose to pursue, it is Mr. Fitz. To him, the students in his class do not represent some name at the top of a test; he takes the time to get to know the students in his classes (as well as students who aren't in his classes) personally. He is the first person to pull a student who is struggling aside and ask if everything is okay, and he always knows how to bring smiles to those passing in the hallways. Mr. Fitz is admirable because he is kind, selfless, caring, respectful, and generous. In addition to all of this, his talent for teaching is unparalleled by any other teacher I have met. His enthusiastic voice and strong passion for the material he is teaching demands students' attention without ever forcing them to give it. He encourages students to participate in class by creating a judgement free environment, where students don't fret about giving wrong answers. The reason why his classes are so invigorating is because he is so full of energy and zeal that, when one gets a question right, he is practically jumping up and down with joy for them. Mr. Fitz has the kind of passion for teaching that is rare. It only takes one conversation with Mr. Fitzgerald to convince you that he loves his job. During my junior year, I started to suspect that the girl who sat next to me was cheating off of me for exams. Even though I was scared of being called a snitch, I decided to talk to Mr. Fitz about it. Mr. Fitz immediately knew who it was and agreed that something needed to be done. He made me feel as though I was important and my problem deserved attention, which is more than anyone could ask for. Although we both knew that the school couldn't accuse this girl of cheating for legal reasons and lack of proof, that didn't stop Mr. Fitz from making sure it was resolved. For the rest of the year, Mr. Fitz sat in between me and the girl who was cheating off of me and watched her vigilantly while she took the test. During this time, he could have been doing other work, but instead he took that time to make sure I felt comfortable so that I could take the test without worrying about her cheating off of me. Mr. Fitz has a strong moral compass, and he is the first person I would go to if I ever needed an adult to help me. This helps to demonstrate the kind of environment that Mr. Fitzgerald creates: a nonjudgmental, open door environment in which he is always willing to help in whatever way he can to whatever capacity the student needs. In September of this year, Mr. Fitz gave a talk for seniors about leadership and making good decisions. I think I speak for everyone there when I say that he inspired us all with the stories he shared about his life and the journey he took to get to where he is truly happy. By the end of the talk, there was not a dry eye in the audience. Mr. Fitz has the ability to speak powerfully in simple language. He offered something more what any other motivational speaker could say because he related everything back to the students. This is a common theme for Mr. Fitz: his love of the students he meets and his ability to see the best in them even when they can't see it themselves. Throughout the rest of my academic career, I am positive I won't meet another teacher quite as passionate, engaging, patient, hard working, wise, or understanding as Mr. John Fitzgerald. He is a rare type of teacher: the kind that inspires students to continue learning. He has touched the lives of so many students already, and will continue to instill that spark in future students yet to come. I've been extremely blessed to have been a student of such an amazing teacher and role model, and I hope you consider him as he is the perfect person to represent teachers that make a positive imact on the world.

Kristine Allen

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