Student Nomination Story

Currently, I am a senior waiting to graduate from Whitney High School in 2 and a half months. Although spending 6 years at one school would make me excited to graduate, one of the reasons I’m sad to leave is because of a teacher named Renee Olson. The first time I met Mrs. Olson was when I was in her 2nd period history class. Though I didn’t enjoy history that much, Mrs. Olson’s class was enjoyable and she made it easy to understand. Not only that, but Mrs. Olson figured that I was shy and she was the one who always greeted me in the mornings. Over the next few years, I didn’t really have a chance to talk to Mrs. Olson, much less see her in the hallways. But when I did, she would always smile and say “Hi” to me first, most likely because she remembered my introverted personality. This year, I am enrolled in her psychology class and it has been the highlight of my day ever since the first day of school (which prompts me to go to class as soon as the bell rings). Not only is it because Mrs. Olson teaches the class, but because she actually makes the class fun. The class isn’t just heavily textbook-based, but Mrs. Olson shows us videos, provides us with organized notes, and has us participate in fun experiments to teach us specific concepts related to that chapter. There was one time when she had us arrange ourselves into groups and gave us some materials (notepad, paper clip, needle, record, tape, a pencil, and other items to throw us off) to make a record player. Of course, our immediate response was exclaiming that it was not possible and joking around that we were going to take forever. Before I knew it, I was engaged in the activity and the whole class was figuring out a way to make the record play. Eventually, Mrs. Olson had to show us the video since no one came up with the answer and she explained that the activity was to explain the concept of functional fixedness. The whole class benefited from the activity that day due to the interesting experiment and we were able to learn a concept from the chapter by experiencing it ourselves. Mrs. Olson is a beloved teacher to many due to her personality as well. She is caring, humorous, and witty which makes her a popular teacher on campus. When I was still writing college essays, I asked Mrs. Olson if she would be able to read over one of my college essays and recently, I asked her if she would be willing to be my essay advisor for a scholarship essay contest. Both times, I was afraid that she would refuse since I didn’t give her enough time, but she accepted both of my requests with a smile. I was especially nervous when I asked her to be my scholarship essay advisor since she had to fill out an extra form with her information, but she readily agreed as she said, “What is that going to take? Two minutes? I can spare two minutes for you, Holly Cho.” Not only did Mrs. Olson agree to my last minute requests, but she is one of the few teachers I know who would change her plans for her students. Though I didn’t mean to be, I was absent on a test day due to a killer headache and a lingering cough. Although Mrs. Olson doesn’t assume anything like that, I thought that she would think I was absent because I wasn’t prepared for the test; even I thought that the timing was too accurate. The next day, she did tease me saying that it was a coincidence how I was absent on a test day, but she became sincere right after and asked whether I was able to take the test in my still-sick condition. Though I answered “yes”, I’m pretty certain that if I said “no”, she would’ve given me another day to prepare for it. That’s just the kind of teacher she is. During first semester, I felt guilty since I wasn’t able to try as hard in that class as I wanted to due to college applications and other extracurriculars. However, after second semester started, this class became the only one I was looking forward to. Whenever I walk into her classroom, I can expect to have a good time with the other students by exchanging jokes and hearing funny stories. However, in order for me to truly have fun in class, Mrs. Olson has to be there with us. There were multiple days when we joked around by ourselves with a substitute teacher watching over us, but without Mrs. Olson making witty remarks about someone’s jokes or stories, it wasn’t the same. No matter how nice the substitute teacher is, when Mrs. Olson is not there in class with us, I feel like there’s something missing and often feel as if the class isn’t as fun. I never thought that I would be unhappy about a substitute teacher replacing the original teacher even for a day, but that’s how powerful her presence is for me. Not only does she make the overall class environment better for me, but she makes me want to try in class. My passion is in foreign language so I used to enjoy my Japanese class more than any other in the past, but now, she made me want to try harder in this class than my Japanese class. Whenever she assigns us worksheets for homework, I try to underline all the significant parts in the article and as for my notebook, I make sure that my penmanship is neat and legible for her when she grades it. Although I try to do the best in all my classes, no matter my lack of interest in the subject, it’s been a while since I actually tried hard enough to prove to my teacher that I’m working hard for my grade, that I’m not just “winging” it. Considering how I am nearing graduation and have senioritis, I find it surprising how Mrs. Olson still prompts me to make every effort to do well in her class. Mrs. Olson is one of the best teachers on campus and I’m certainly glad that I got to learn from her twice (even more glad that my second time is my last year at this school). I thank her for giving me something to look forward to for the past 7 months and hopefully, I share more memorable moments with her with what long, yet short time I have left at this school.

Holly Cho

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