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The Best Teachers Teach Best by Example

This individual not only represents the highest quality of education found anywhere in this country, but reflects the hearts and lives of all who educated our children during the past 200 years.
The Best Teachers Teach Best by Example

“Ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm welcome to Superintendent Robert Herwerden!”

Each year the district’s education association met to nominate the recipient of the “Teacher of the Year” award. This tradition began when there were only three one-room schoolhouses in the area. Representatives from the growing farming community reviewed each nominee and voted. This year’s award was being presented at a special bicentennial celebration marking 200 years of public education in the county.

“Thank you! It is such a pleasure to be standing here tonight to present this special award. As I look out over the audience, I see familiar faces everywhere—faces of teachers, students, alumni, parents, administration, and many wonderful friends.”

As he spoke, Mrs. McGuffy quickly checked her lipstick—she knew she was the perfect pick. After all, she received the award four years in a row for classroom excellence—no one else had ever been a four-time winner. Her husband’s great-grandfather, Patrick McGuffy, was the first teacher in the county, riding on horseback from schoolhouse to schoolhouse in the early 1800’s. Knowing what her family meant to this community, she knew she was the most logical pick.

On the other side of the room, Mr. Chen had butterflies in his stomach. Having taught special-needs children for twenty-seven years, seeing the fruit of his labor as his students grew to adulthood, he was more than hopeful—the rumor was that his department was being considered. Adjusting his tie, he mentally reviewed his acceptance speech.

Near the back sat Miss Alevero full of confident smiles. She spent more than twenty years teaching the children of migrant workers how to speak and write English. All the children loved her—the feeling was mutual. Her genuineness made it easy for the children to learn.

Mr. Preston, a high-strung man known for throwing an occasional temper tantrum in the band room, sat on the front row. He was known throughout the country for the excellent music program he developed over the years. His students respected him—perhaps feared him to some degree, but there was no question they responded to his strong discipline. Parents often disagreed with his gruff personality, but no one could argue his love for the kids, his pride in their accomplishments, and sensitivity to their need to be successful. He really wasn’t expecting the award, but he secretly hoped someone would acknowledge his achievements. After all, several first-place wins at national band competitions brought the school recognition and additional federal funding.

“This year we not only celebrate the teacher of the year, but we commemorate two hundred years of quality education in this district. As representative of this community, I thank every faculty member, both past and present, for faithful service.”

The room filled with hearty applause while anticipation grew.

“This year’s award goes to someone very special to our community. This individual not only represents the highest quality of education found anywhere in this country, but reflects the hearts and lives of all who educated our children during the past 200 years.”

Mrs. McGuffy nudged her husband and whispered in his ear. “I knew it! This makes me a five-time winner. I told you!”

“Please join me in welcoming Johnnie Smith to the platform as recipient of the Bicentennial Teacher of the Year Award!”

A flurry of audible whispers could be heard until finally Mr. Chen stood up and began to clap. One by one a standing ovation welcomed fifteen-year old Johnnie to the platform assisted by his father.

“Johnnie Smith is one of the most remarkable young men I’ve ever met. When nominated to receive this award, the committee hesitated since Johnnie is still a student. After giving him equal consideration and taking into account this special bicentennial year, the vote was unanimous. There is no one more suited for this special award.”

Johnnie’s excitement was obvious—his eyes glistened with tears.

“Although Johnnie never realized it, we have all learned from his determined spirit. Teachers teach best by example. Johnnie Smith has been the greatest example of faith, hope, and fortitude this community has ever seen. There is no question he is a teacher—a teacher to us all. Please join me in congratulating Johnnie Edgar Smith, Teacher of the Year!”

As Johnnie took the microphone, it became obvious to everyone why he was chosen. Within a few short minutes, this determined young man taught by personal testimony what it means to make the most of every day regardless of life’s circumstances.