National Teaching Award Nominee
Charleston High School, Charleston, Illinois
Student Nomination Story
The night before my first day of high school was nerve-racking. As we filed into our auditorium and listened to our principal give his freshmen orientation speech, my palms began to sweat more. After he finished speaking, we were instructed to go to each classroom on our schedule. Struggling to find the first two classrooms, I was becoming more nervous how I would locate all of the classrooms during an actual school day. Luckily, I knew where the “400” classrooms were, so when I arrived in room 401, I became considerably less nervous. Ms. Rice has an aura of thoughtfulness and kindheartedness that surrounds her. She made a few jokes and made everyone laugh during that night. After leaving her classroom, I was more confident for tomorrow, and Freshmen year. And that’s what Ms. Rice does; she makes every single person that meets her laugh and smile at least once. Whether it be discussing logical fallacies, or pop-culture, she always finds a way to put a smile on someone’s face. And it doesn’t stop there. On a daily basis, she complements people on their hair, their outfits, their writing, their grammar, and their achievements. More importantly, she often enacts ways to engage people. For example, when we were discussing Hemmingway, she asked me about my experience visiting his house in Key West, and she does the same for so many different people. It’s often the little things that make the biggest impact. In previous years, English was a boring, often textbook ridden class. I never looked forward going to English. Today, Ms. Rice has changed my entire opinion of English. Her style of teaching and personality makes English my favorite class to go to. In fact, I look forward to going to English every single day. I now write for the school newspaper, something I would have never considered doing before Honors English I. When I thought of starting a debate team, I knew exactly who to ask to sponsor the team. When I asked Ms. Rice, and she said, yes, we began working together to gather more members. Yet, she is more than just a supervisor. Ms. Rice makes the debate team fun, entertaining, and special. When discussing controversial topics, we often go in depth, discussing our own opinions. One time, we stayed an extra half hour after school discussing women’s challenges in the 21st century. Ms. Rice is the kind of person that makes every conversation interesting and rewarding. Ms. Rice has changed my life. Now I look forward to going to English, and I can’t wait to go to debate every week, all because of Ms. Rice’s work towards making debate and English exciting. But this paper is long-over-due. Ms. Rice has changed the lives of so many students by making English a rewarding class that, even if it weren’t required in school, people would still want to go to. Once during class, Ms. Rice described her elementary school teacher. Ms. Rice told us about how she adored this teacher and always looked up to her. Ms. Rice is that teacher, for me, and for so many others. She’s someone who I respect and look up to every day. She is a life-changer.
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