Student Nomination Story

I've had a rough few years at my high school...Various teachers throughout my high school career have aided in my life by simply sympathizing with me. However, there is only one teacher who has made an impact on not only me as a student, but me as a person - and this teacher would have to be Mrs. Lisa Furlong. Now, I've known Mrs. Furlong since the beginning of my freshman year. I remember sitting in the front of her art class, just a few seconds after I sat down, she walked up to me. Normally, I would start to panic and think I did something wrong. However, art is kind of my thing, so I was already more comfortable in her class than I would have been in any other class. She asked me in her usual sweet tone of voice what my name was. I responded, then she asked where I was from. I thought this was an odd question seeing as I've been in the school district since Kindergarten. But, nevertheless, I answered her. She then said, "So, you've been here since the beginning?" I laughed then said yes. It was then I realized, even though I knew almost everyone in that class, no one was sitting next to me, and that was why she asked where I was from. I didn't understand why no one sat next to me, I considered everyone in that class my friend, and I thought everyone had the same idea in regards to me. Again, normally I would freak out and start to internally cry. However, there was something about Mrs. Furlong's presence that just made me feel like everything was going to be okay. A few days after this encounter, I 100% stepped out of my comfort zone and asked a peer if I could sit next to them (this was right in front of Mrs. Furlong's desk). I was relieved when they said yes. Now, most would think... okay... you asked to sit next to a kid, what does this have to do with the teacher? But that's just it, I would have never EVER asked to do that if it wasn't for Mrs. Furlong's way of making me feel comfortable. I actually have Mrs. Furlong again for my senior year of high school for Advanced Studio in Art. Now that I'm a little more comfortable in high school in general, I was able to walk in, and sit right in front of her desk, AND next to other students. Although the first encounter in 9th grade with Mrs. Furlong changed my entire outlook on high school, somehow she changed my entire outlook on LIFE these first couple days of my senior year. She told us a personal story about how she became the teacher she is today. And it hit me like a brick, this teacher, this PERSON needs to know she is worth something by someone other than family for example. By an outsider, by a student, by me. After class I walked up to her and poured my heart out on why she is an AMAZING teacher. The next day we were working with clay. The whole message she was teaching us was - EVERYTHING MUST GO SO I CAN GROW! I love this, don't hold onto the past, and just focus on the now. You can't change what happened, but you can change what will happen. Now, we had to mess up the clay, completely destroy it. Make it look like anything but something. I was having a hard time with this because in my mind, if it's not perfect, what is it's worth? Mrs. Furlong noticed I was struggling. She came over to me and said, "Jac, sit on the floor". In my head, I'm just like... okay... why? But I did it - I sat on the floor with my clay. Then she sat on the floor with me and instructed me to mess with the clay. This task was simple to my fellow classmates, but I just couldn't do it. Eventually, she literally took off her shoe, handed it to me, and told me to hit the clay with it. Genius. I followed her instructions. At the end of this action, she ultimately told me, this clay, is literally worth pennies. This clay, is worth NOTHING. YOU are the only thing that can give actual WORTH to this clay. Don't let the thoughts tell you otherwise. Everything must go so you can grow. Let go of the past, and focus on the now. Afterward, I went back to my desk with my messed up clay, and began to make something beautiful. I realized, beautiful does not mean perfect, it means, it makes you happy. I created a Statue of Liberty bust, it was beautiful, because it made me happy. I made it to symbolize MY freedom from my thoughts. After class I went up to her, and thanked her. She said, "Do you get it?" and I just said, "Yes." We smiled at each other, then I left for my next class. I can't wait to learn and grow this year with the help of Mrs. Furlong. She is THE best teacher I've ever had, and I plan on thanking her everyday for her impact on me. Thank you Mrs. Furlong, you deserve this nomination :)

Jacqueline Vaccaro

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