Student Nomination Story

When I entered the door of Mr. Lovell’s fourth grade classroom back in the fall of 1999, I had only one expectation in mind - to get through the year with my entire body & soul intact. I figured I could easily slide under the radar, get things done and have minimal face-to-face interaction with my teacher. Each day I remember looking at him and feeling like oh my god everything about him is so scary - the way he sits, stands, eats, dresses, speaks and even takes off his glasses. Going home each day felt heavenly but only temporarily. His classroom felt like hell. From day one, Mr. Lovell began pushing me academically in a way that was truly unlike any other. While there were obviously a few other dozen students in the classroom, it felt as if it were just me. Whenever something such a math problem needed to be solved, I was ‘the one’ he’d always call upon to solve whether it was standing up at the blackboard or at his desk. I could never understand why he always made things specifically about me, and because he did that I developed an intense dislike for him. As the fourth grade year drew to a close, he asked our class a question - “By a show of hands who would like for me move up and become the fifth grade teacher for this class next year?” As I looked around at my classmates, I seen that not a single soul inched a mile to lift their hands in the air - I most certainly DID NOT! In that moment as much as I could understand why everyone reacted the way in which they did, I actually felt pretty bad for our teacher. I was in the kitchen getting a soda out the refrigerator, when my Mother returned home from class registration for my siblings and I. As I was kneeled down within the inside of refrigerator I yelled to my Mother, “Hey, Mom who did I get as a teacher for the year?” For some strange reason she didn’t reply. I walked up to her and asked once again and that time she stared at me with the saddest eyes and finally said, “I tried.” I said, “Who did I get?” She said, “I’m so sorry, I tried everything to get you placed into a classroom with a different teacher, but I couldn’t. You’ve been given Mr. Lovell as your fifth grade teacher.” Completely stone-faced for at least three minutes, I asked, “Did I flunk (fail) the fourth grade?” She said, “No, not at all he’s your teacher for the year and there’s absolutely nothing that can be done about it.” I honestly just couldn’t even believe what was happening in that moment. My Mother kept ensuring me throughout the entire year that my time in Mr. Lovell’s class was going to end and when it did I would no longer have to stress about being there. Imagine my surprise in finding out that wasn’t the least bit true. I kept constant thinking, “Wow, this has seriously got to be the worst trick that God has ever played on.” Hindsight is definitely golden. Now, as a thirty-one year old looking back I totally get why everything happened the way in which it did. Mr. Lovell wasn’t an awfully mean, supremely ill-intent person. He was actually the complete opposite. He seen something particularly special within me that I myself didn’t even know existed. He pushed me so incredibly hard to succeed and as a young child I just couldn’t understand why. He’s someone that fully understands greatness and that sometimes it’s something that needs to be dragged out of certain people. I walked into his class at the beginning of fifth grade year an incredibly freakishly shy skinny girl with pigtails and thick glasses, filled with so much anxiety and uncertainty about everything. I had no friends, I was bullied each day for being someone that’s different because I liked reading instead of playing kickball. I walked out of his classroom at the end of the year filled with a great deal of confidence in knowing that I could achieve anything in the world. I believe that if he truly had it his way he would’ve held onto to students like me forever, eventually becoming like Mr. Feeny (the teacher portrayed in the hit television show, ‘Boy Meets World’) teaching each grade level right up through college until he absolutely no longer could. I know that Mr. Lovell really wanted to see me grow as an individual and in order for that to happen he pushed me so far outside of my box, challenging me in so many different ways. I’m beyond grateful to him for being the tough as nails teacher that he was - both years. If he hadn’t been I truthfully don’t know where I would be today. He’ll undoubtedly go down in history as being the most memorable and hardcore teacher that I’ve ever had. It has been twenty years since I last seen or spoke to Mr. Lovell, but I hope that he’s doing very well. Life has been very good to me and I attribute my success to drive and hard work which he instilled within me long ago. I have earned both my bachelors degree and MBA, and currently gaining certification to become a Financial Planner. I hope that I’ve made Mr. Lovell proud in far I’ve come and it’s all thanks to him.

Christyna Phillips

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