Stacy Hallmark, English, Louisa County High School This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

April 6, 2013
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Until ninth grade, English class had always been a breeze. I had no worries about getting an A in English in high school. However, I heard numerous frightening reviews about Ms. Hallmark, the ninth grade honors English teacher. Students claimed she was strict, intimidating, hostile, and a handful of other obscene terms. Going to high school was going to be frightening enough, but now I had this teacher to worry about. I didn't know how I was going to make it through the semester.

The first week of English class was an unforgettable one. As I walked into class on the first day, the room was silent. Our much feared teacher strode to the front of the classroom and took her place behind a podium. We braced ourselves. There, standing before us, was a strikingly beautiful young woman whose demeanor radiated authority. Her icy eyes seemed as if they could, with a single glance, freeze students in their tracks. As she went over the amount of work we would be doing, I soon realized that English class was not a joke as it had been in middle school.

Throughout the week, however, English class became one of my favorite classes of the day. Everyone got used to what seemed to be a massive amount of homework, which helped prepare us for other classes. Ms. Hallmark’s interaction with the class made learning fun. While reading aloud one day, she put on a pair of silly glasses to keep the class’s attention. Even through our giggles, we never missed a word she said. At the end of the week, we had a funeral for the “dead words” we were not allowed to use in our writing anymore. We wrote eulogies for the words and placed them in a coffin. Every day was different in English class and I looked forward to seeing what each day would bring.
At the end of the week, an earthquake destroyed our entire school. While the whole school population stood outside in mass chaos, Ms. Hallmark could be found comforting students in her yearbook class who were shaken up. After the earthquake, we went to school three days a week at the middle school. Ms. Hallmark still managed to deliver her lessons just as effectively. She made the longer school days more bearable for all of us with her witty jokes, fashion advice, and entertaining stories. At the end of the semester I was deeply disappointed to know that her class was over.

About a year later, right before winter break, my mother passed away. When school resumed, countless students stared at me and quickly looked away when I looked at them because they didn't know what to say. However, while saying hello to Ms. Hallmark and asking her about her winter break, she looked me straight in the eye, said some comforting words, and gave me a hug. Coming from such an intimidating, but extremely respected teacher, this simple gesture meant more to me than any condolences I received from anyone else. I soon learned that Ms. Hallmark is a lunch monitor during my lunch shift. Being the dedicated teacher that she is, she even grades papers during her lunch time. I still look forward to talking to her every day at lunch as I walk past her. Although she likely doesn't know it, her compliments have helped me through some of my worst days and that is something I will never be able to repay her for.

Ms. Hallmark goes above and beyond what is expected of her as a teacher. Not only has she facilitated my fondness of English, she has also taught me valuable life lessons. The most important lesson she has taught me is to never judge a book by its cover; despite the absolutely absurd negative reviews that I heard about Ms. Hallmark, once I got to know her, she turned out to be someone that I have an immense amount of respect for and someone I truly look up to. If more teachers made the differences that Ms. Hallmark makes, the world would be a greater place.

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This article has 13 comments. Post your own now!

PhoenixCrossing said...
Jun. 12, 2013 at 11:09 pm
She sounds like a great teacher. Don't forget to go back to her for teacher recommendations for college! Anyways the essay was very touching and the way you brought her character to life was great. I'm sorry for everything that happened to you but this was fanatstic!
Chichot123 said...
May 4, 2013 at 12:39 pm
Simply amazing, write on. :) 
Hanban12 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 1, 2013 at 4:45 pm
Aww wonderful! This was ver exciting and interesting to read, other than most essays. Great job with this, and i absolutely loved the whole concept! Wish i could give u 10/10!
laurengerhard This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 27, 2013 at 7:03 pm
My english teacher is the same for me. We're blessed to have such wonderful ones. 5/5
Literature_Darling said...
Apr. 25, 2013 at 10:00 pm
Wonderful! This is one of the best essay type pieces I have read on teen ink! If it were possible I would give you six stars or even 7!
Laugh-it-Out This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 25, 2013 at 8:09 pm
great job, really, you deserve this editors choice check immensly. i think that this piece really reflects the beauty of teaching because hey, it isnt al bad! it really makes you thank them for their time and apologize when needed for being a disruption. i have a wonderful history teachor who took us to do yoga in the park during our hour and a half (!) history period. it was amazing. he is always jumping on desks and throwing things, hes sucha  character! this article really reminds me of ... (more »)
dagnytaggart said...
Apr. 25, 2013 at 6:16 pm
Wow, this was very beautifully written. Honestly, these types of nonfiction articles get pretty boring, but this one captivated me, and held my attention throughout the whole thing! The wording is great, and I was actually smiling through this whole thing because it was so sweet! Did you show this to Ms. Hallmark btw??? 
swat17 replied...
Apr. 25, 2013 at 7:55 pm
Aww thank you! Yeah, she's read it :)
Elisa99This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 24, 2013 at 7:30 pm
Very well done! Great job!
SongBird04 said...
Apr. 20, 2013 at 10:57 pm
Aww, that was sweet! honors English is my favorite class, too! :)  That was really well written, though the second to last sentence is kind of long, maybe split it up? Just a suggestion--it's still good, though! Nice job!! 
Fallenoutofgrace said...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 8:54 pm
Congrats on getting editors chocie and welcome fellow new member i love this peice cause it was touching and i felt like i was you gonig into the classroom and i hope you show this to ms.hallmark.
Mckay This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 2:59 pm
You're talented, honestly. Very inspirational and touching peice. Did you show this piece to Ms. Hallmark (I think she'd like it)? English rocks!
Mckay This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 17, 2013 at 3:00 pm
P.S. welcome to the site! So happy to have you join. And Congrats on the Editors' Choice for this piece; they're so hard to get. 
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