Teacher of the Year

January 14, 2009
By Lindy Nelson, Hartland, WI

The best teacher I have had the privilege of being taught by was my sophomore English teacher, Mrs.
Sharp. The class had certain freedoms that I was not allowed in other classes. When a report was
assigned, I was allowed to pick the topic. In all other classes when I was told I could write about
"anything" I would write about a taboo topic and I would be scolded or punished. In English 10,
I did a speech about masochism and some of the cruelties animals are subjected to in factory farms
around the world; no calls to my house were made and I wasn't forced to take a long walk to the
guidance office. The experience I had with Mrs. Sharp wasn't just one of where to look when making
a speech or one of a novel discussion. It was one of being understood and not being told I was
wrong. It happened one May morning I had been sobbing since the previous night. I had fallen in
love with someone I had taken martial arts with for the past two years. He was eight years older
than me but he cared about me more than anyone else. He was ignored and lectured by the instructors
like I was so we would go in a side room and practice together. This worked swimmingly for a few
months until the head instructor came in and found us practicing a mandatory grappling technique. He
told us this was "inappropriate and irresponsible." We were told to stay away from each other. I
instantly jumped to the conclusion I was never going to be able to see him again. A sleepless night
hadn't drained me of all my tears, so I tried to put on some make up and go to school in hopes
I'd distract myself. It didn't work. Before the 7:20 bell had rung I was already in a back desk
trying not to let anyone find me crying. Mrs. Sharp saw me in despair and asked me what was wrong. I
tried to tell her what had happened but I was too upset to even form sentences. She told me to come
back during my lunch hour. Somehow I managed to survive my morning classes and drag myself to the
room at the end of the hall during lunch. I told her what had happened and she said, "This must be
really hard for you because you love him." I was so stunned she listened to me that I stopped
crying. Unlike my parents and martial arts instructor, she understood I wasn't being taken
advantage of and I genuinely cared for my training partner. I managed to make it through the rest of
the school day and go home without having another breakdown. It's two years later and I am now a
senior and still practicing martial arts with my training buddy. If I hadn't been found that
morning, I don't know what would have happened but I'm willing to bet money it wouldn't have
turned out the way it did. I think she should be commended for comforting me and giving me the
courage to face the day and follow my heart.

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