On the first day of fifth grade, I was really nervous. I walked into my classroom and there was Ms. Horowitz. We all sat down and she said we were going to talk about our goals for the year. I immediately thought "Oh no, she is one of those." Then, Ms. Horowitz pulled out a jar of lollipops. I could see some of the other kids' eyes growing wide. She walked over to one student's desk and asked him what was his goal for the year. He answered, "to get better in math." Ms. Horowitz put the lollipop on his desk, "Are you just going to let that goal lie there?" Ms. Horowitz asked. "No," he said, reaching for the lollipop. All of a sudden, Ms. Horowitz snatched the lollipop off the desk. "Or, are you going to reach for it?" she said dangling over his head, giggling. "I'm gonna reach for it!" he said and was able to grab the lollipop. She then proceeded to do this with each one of us until we were all laughing and eating lollipops.
That first day gave me a sense of what it was going to be like in Ms. Horowitz's class. Things were going to be fun. Ms. Horowitz has a spark within her. Ms. Horowitz has the biggest smile in the whole school and gives the best hugs. She is a truly incredible person.
Ms. Horowitz has many characteristics that make her special. She sets high expectations, and never gives up on anyone, even the kids other teachers find to be a little bit more difficult than the rest. I can see the joy in her eyes when one student, after days of work, finally says, "I get it now!" She engages with students. She asks questions frequently to make sure everyone understands the concept, and she doesn't let one student dominate the whole class. She gives everyone an equal shot at answering a question. She forms strong relationships with each of her students, each different and special in their own way. She is warm, accessible, enthusiastic, and caring.
Ms. Horowitz changed my life because she made me want to be better student every day. She made everything better, even math. She was even able to help me learn to divide fractions! That, in itself, is something incredible. Whether it was playing Twister to blaring music at Astrocamp or watching a bison graze in the sunset on Catalina Island, or patching a hole in a tent when it started to rain, or playing with kids at Shane's Inspiration, or trying to tape up the windows with duct tape to keep the rain out, or trying to grow the Guardians of the Galaxy plant, or supporting me in my writings, we have always managed to have a good time. She went to every single one of my home basketball games, and even started cheers. About halfway through the school year, three friends and I decided to start a novel. She immediately set out to help us, asking the principal if we could stay in at lunch to work on it, and editing our work. Then, on her birthday, two of the three friends I was writing with (and me) decided that we should write her a poem. We did, and I got it framed for her. It is still sitting on her desk.
All of this is incredibly special, but one thing that she has done has stuck out among the other amazing things. This summer, Ms. Horowitz flew from California to New York to have a back surgery. She did not tell very many people, and sucked up the pain for the entire school year and waited for a summer surgery so that she could give her students a full year of learning instead of leaving halfway through the school year. Luckily, Ms. Horowitz made a nice recovery, but she is still suffering from some pain. But she keeps teaching. She is one of the best examples of an independent young woman who truly wants the best for her students. I am eternally grateful for her love and support, and when I grow up I hope I can be like my hero, Ms. Horowitz.