You are here

2012 Winter Essay Contest Winner - Student

1st Place Winner
Kevin Powell
Teacher: Mrs. Myriam Bell
Flour Bluff High School
Corpus Christi, TX



As I walked into my 8th grade room adorned with posters of American presidents and Civil War battles, tapestries of history cartoons and comics, and the timeline of our nation's past from the mysterious Roanoke Island to the heart-wrenching Cuban Missile Crisis, I knew that this American history class would produce great memories. Yet, it was not this, but a sour anxiety that caused my heart to beat faster and swell into fear. Legends from a time not so long ago were whispered from grade to grade of the strictness of the teacher who took rule over the masses commanding them with intense approbation and who is a woman with an eccentric sense of intelligence. As I slowly forced myself into the room, the image I saw hardly matched the myths that circulated. Ms. Blake is a thin, middle-aged woman of Quaker beliefs who attended Yale and who, with all of her ingenuity, is somehow teaching at a small private school in Corpus Christi, Texas. She is a simple woman - straightforward and consistent in her teaching. That day in which I walked into her class afraid was truly singular, for every morning after I ambled right on in with a bright smile. At the first instance of the first history lesson, Ms. Blake easily observed how much knowledge I had accumulated in the subject of history. From contributing to her history lessons and to writing a 60 page fictional short story set during the Civil War, the encouragement Ms. Blake commended to me individually provided a foundation for my love of history and the art of writing. The lessons of character she instilled in me consisted of the most invaluable education I could ever have. She recognized in me a hunger for knowledge and my quest to pursue it in all realms. At the end of the year, I received the American History Award for the class. This was just one short-term reward received. The passion she has for teaching, coupled with an immense reservoir of knowledge, has given me the insight to strive for opportunities however seemingly unattainable, knowledge however complex, and a non-conformist way of thinking to achieve the highest possible joys in life. She stresses freedom and independence, and she is truly a free-thinking teacher who enjoyes educating the future leaders of America. Ms. Blake understands the fact, as do millions of teachers across America, that the education of the future generation is essential in the passing of the torch from one generation to the next. The role of the teacher in present-day society is critical to the future of American progress.

The good teacher is the man or woman that provides inspiration, care, and most importantly impartiality to the leaders of the future. Inspiration is the drive which allows the impoverished child to achieve the goal of graduating college. It is the force which compels a young man to become the most active humanitarian in the world. It is the essence of motivation and positivism which fuels a young writer in producing one of the greatest masterpieces the world has ever read. The greatest men and women of history have at one time been taught and inspired by a teacher. Aristotle during Hellenic Greece inspired young Alexander of Macedon in the sciences, literature, mathematics, social studies, and philosophy. This knowledge and the passion in which they were taught allowed the young prince to envision himself as a leader. The most vital and overlooked key to inspiration is the dream. The moment a student imagines a future goal and a different reality for himself is a moment of illumination. The dream of a young boy to help the poor of the world will foster his spirit of adventure and knowledge as he travels across continents and experiences events most will never endure. Care is the compassion and kindness expressed to students. A good teacher who cares for his or her students respects them and hopes they do their best at every task undertaken. Care can be the best way to cement a positive relationship between a teacher and a student. A good teacher understands her students' problems and needs including the best way to solve them. A teacher who can simply care for his or her students is a profound example of the wonder of education. Education may be the last refuge for a child or teenager. Caring for students will lead to their love of learning. The most valuable trait of a teacher is that of impartiality, or the decision of a teacher to teach without bias. In society today, education remains a foundation of information. A good teacher will distribute information without bias that could influence the beliefs of a student. The greatest virtue a student can possess is an independent mind, one in which opinions and decisions are reached by free reasoning, one not left to manipulation or prejudice. Information taught, free of bias, is the best gift a teacher can truly give. A good teacher cares for a student and offers a small spark of inspiration which can truly shine in the free imagination of a young person.

By forming such a positive relationship with a student, a good teacher has the ability to instill values which will influence a student's character for life. The way a teacher cares for his or her students serves as a model for them to look up to in order to personally develop the positive traits of their own character. The kindness and compassion expressed by teachers reflect the reasons why they are role models in society. The children who observe the charisma, affection, and responsibility of a teacher learn from these principles and develop the meaning of becoming a citizen. Citizenship is the result of a student with a positive character. It is the action of giving back to society what opportunities it granted them in the first place. The quintessence of citizenship is itself the act of educating the future generation. That essence is absorbed by students which materializes into community service. Citizenship is also the act of keeping up with current issues and becoming involved in the democratic process. Ms. Blake taught me the trials and tribulations of those in the past who have died for those of the future, and how citizenship pays respect and secures the promise that those who have fought for America have not died in vain. Ms. Blake inspired my character to be one of independence, free-thought, kindness, and tolerance. She told stories of how she protested during the Vietnam War and expressed her right to protest. In vivid tales she illustrated how her Quaker ancestors were non-conformists who lived in an age of bleak conformity and conservative society. The Quaker values of peace, love, and freedom visibly played a role in the way Ms. Blake lived and taught. However dull a topic might sound at first became lively and fun through discussion and games. It would be a lie for someone to say she is a boring person. It seems her paramount goal as a teacher is to teach a subject in the most creative way possible. She truly does pass on her own fire of passion to the next generation, my generation. And I am truly fortunate to have such a brilliant person in my life.

The Roman statesman Cicero proclaimed, "What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state, than that of the man who instructs the rising generation." In the course of this world's history, a young generation was taught the reality of their world and took it upon themselves to claim the human torch of progress from their predecessors. They in turn taught their succeeding generation the ways of the world. This cycle is a foundation in the success of any free and enlightened nation. The human torch for the betterment of mankind has always been a goal for America. The teacher is an immortal model without which civilization simply cannot survive. That intimate experience of oneness and understanding with Ms. Blake has been the true spark that lighted my quest for knowledge. Let us hope that her flame as well as others' continues to shine from generation to generation.