Student Nomination Story

Ms. Verkler By: Cole Schweda, Grade 11 My last two periods of the day: Spanish and English. Going into my freshman year of high school at Arrowhead Union High School, I was told that English is the hardest class and I didn’t like Spanish whatsoever…so my end to the day was going to be great. I started off the year normally. I had almost made it to Christmas break. I still somehow had straight A’s which I thought would be impossible. It was December 16th, the day before my birthday. I had made it through the entire day until 9th hour. I walked into my Spanish class and my jaw dropped…We had a speaking quiz and I had no idea. I had not studied for this and I had a 90.0% in the class. I had to get an A. I had no idea what to do. I knew I could not take it as I would fail. I was in a full state of panic. I was freaking out on the inside, wanting to cry or scream, but I knew I couldn’t. The quiz was in partners so there was a little preparation table. As our teacher was listening to one group talk, the next group on deck would get to prepare. I had no idea what to do. I thought, I have to cheat. I had known countless people who had cheated on an assignment or quiz and had not gotten caught. I thought, what could possibly go wrong? I’ll still have my A in the class and everything will be great. I could have never been more wrong. I was caught cheating. My teacher saw me glance at a small, tiny piece of looseleaf paper. A corner I had ripped off and written notes on. I handed her the paper and went back to my desk. I put my head in my hands, crying. Countless thoughts rolled through my head until I heard the bell ring. I still had one more class for the day. During that period, I didn’t listen to a single word my English teacher Ms. Verkler said. I just sat there in total, complete silence. I was zoned out. Nothing about me was normal. Class ended and I stood up and began to walk to the door but, Ms. Verkler stopped me, pulled me aside and asked, “Are you ok?” I had never thought that teachers noticed how you act in class normally or would realize that something was wrong. But she actually cared about me. At that moment, I realized that teachers were normal people too. They're not just robots who come to school, teach their class, grade papers and repeat. I sat down and explained everything that had happened in the previous class. She made me feel good about myself telling me, “It’s going to be ok,” and then she said something I will never forget: “I know that’s not how you normally are and what you normally do and I know you will be ok.” That sentence changed my life. We then began to talk about what I can do in the future to make up for what I had just done and how hard I needed to work in the future. I turned around to check the clock. It read 2:50 pm and class ended at 2:26 pm. I had never spent so much time talking to a teacher but I needed those 20 minutes. Those 20 minutes changed my life forever. Those 20 minutes made me a harder worker than I ever thought imaginable and most importantly, who I am today. Those 20 minutes changed the entire course of my life and how I operate. I could not be more thankful for your time that you took out of your day to listen and to help me. For those 20 minutes, thank you Ms. Verkler.

Cole Schweda

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