The Difference a Teacher Can Make

Anna with her backpack

First day of 2nd Grade

The last year has made a big difference in Anna’s education and her outlook. Her first grade year wasn’t easy. She wasn’t getting the support she needed either in her classroom or in her school as a whole. So we made the hard decision to move her to a different school.

It was a last resort. I changed schools several times as a child, and I hated being the new kid. I wanted to give her stability, but not at the cost of compromising her education.

The first month was hard. She had several emotional meltdowns in class and at one point her speech language pathologist even suspected that she might be on the autism spectrum. We doubted this since she’d never shown any signs before, and instead we researched school adjustment issues.

She was taking the change harder than we realized, but after about a month or so she settled in. Her second grade teacher, her SLP, and her occupational therapist all supported her, and she showed great improvement in academics, in her speech, and in her handwriting.

Anna with cat face paint

At Dr. Seuss Night

And as the year went on she told us she wanted to be a second grade teacher when she grew up. This was a big deal. She loved her kindergarten teacher and all through kindergarten she told us she wanted to be a teacher too. Then she started first grade and the talk of being a teacher stopped. It was only one sign among many. I wish we’d seen them sooner.

But we saw them eventually, and she wound up with a wonderful second grade teacher whom she loves.

As the year drew to a close, Anna had the opportunity to nominate her teacher for a Teacher of the Year Award. She brainstormed ideas with Julia and then she wrote a letter. Handwriting is still a struggle for her, and there is no way she would have been able to write this a year ago. But she wrote it this year, and submitted it to the local business that’s sponsoring the awards.

Here is a typed transcription of Anna’s nomination letter:

I think you should give Miss Maggie the Teacher of the Year award because she is an awesome teacher.

She challenges us to work hard, build stamina, and increase fluency.

She teaches us things early like multiplication and even some division.

She teaches us science through activities like hatching and releasing salmon, planting seeds, and playing games such as The Great Melting Race.

Our spelling lists have more than just second grade words. We have high frequency and vocabulary words too that go with the books we are reading.

Miss Maggie encourages technology use by having spelling lists and math activities online that we access with our own login.

She lets us have classroom jobs to help us learn to be leaders.

When there is a disruption in the class, she responds calmly and makes us take responsibility by moving our behavior clips ourselves.

She is always fair in turn-taking and teaches us to appreciate differences in each other.

Miss Maggie deserves to be Teacher of the Year.

Anna’s teacher won! She is the Second Grade Teacher of the Year in our local school district. And tonight she will accept the award and Anna will get a certificate for writing a winning letter. We’re both so proud!

And we’re so grateful to Ms. Maggie for being such an amazing teacher and making such a huge difference in Anna’s life.

One thought on “The Difference a Teacher Can Make

  1. Jean says:

    It is so great that Anna can express her feelings and joy about her wonderful teacher. Teacher are the unsung heroes in our children’s lives. So proud and happy for Anna and her teacher.


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