Student Nomination Story

To Start Off: Mr. Shimazaki, an American Literature teacher, has had an incredible impact to my life and is an unsung hero. Aside from enabling me to be both vulnerable and fearless in the classroom, he has been supportive of me throughout the year. His unconditional compassion, motivational energy, and enthusiasm for teaching is present in everything he does. He has inspired me to be introspective and to never take something at face value - he encourages me to dig deeper in the texts I read in the classroom. There were no walls in the halls of the classroom: what we analyzed was consequential to how we “soul-searched” and critically contemplated justice and individualism. He encouraged us to be authentic in an often inauthentic world - in our socratic discussions, we had the ability to rationalize pragmatism and the relentless pursuit towards self-actualization. We weighed the importance of authentic storytelling and exchanged our differing views on transcendentalism. In addition to reading texts, we learned about the authors of the texts to understand what may have influenced them to write what they did. I thoroughly enjoyed connecting psychology, philosophy, and creative writing. Specifics: I went through struggles in my 11th grade year - in each and every struggle, he deeply empathized with me and allowed me to focus on my understanding and mastery of the text. In a particular conversation, we talked about existentialism, self-actualization, and philosophy. When I once talked to him about the stress I had in my life due to what was going on back home, he allowed me to open up completely and gave me his own life precepts to make me feel better. He designed an assignment where we had to write our own "credo" in life - this assignment helped me be introspective and think specifically about the mottos, beliefs, and precepts I went by. In a class during distance learning, to discuss transcendentalism, Mr. Shimazaki interactively allowed us to share our personal viewpoints on powerful quotations like "Strong. You can do anything. You can go anywhere." What we discussed was larger than the classroom: it pertained to our lives, humanity, and the world.

Avishi Agastwar

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