Educator of the Year: Señora Nocton

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Teachers must possess so many outstanding qualities: intelligence, patience, generousity, compassion, and understanding. It is very difficult for a single individual to acquire all of the above characteristics, especially with the pressure society exerts over today’s educators. Of course, there are many examples of great teachers, but the one I would like to nominate for educator of the year is truly exceptional, both as a teacher and a person, and that is my Spanish and Italian teacher, Señora Nocton.

It is impossible to judge teachers by the test scores of their students; rather, the measuring stick should be based on how educators positively affect and inspire the children they teach each day. Señora Nocton makes such an effort to reach out to all of her students; she actually cares about them beyond the confines of the classroom. For example, I love to read, and every now and then, Señora will ask what I am reading and discuss the book with me. Also, on my birthday, of all my teachers, only Señora took the time to say “happy birthday” and wish me luck on my permit test. I had another chance to view Señora’s kindness last month; when I handed in my essay, she gave me positive feedback immediately. That was something I was utterly unaccustomed to; my previous teachers had only told me what I needed to improve, not what was good about my work. Señora must see nearly one hundred students daily, and have numerous papers to correct when she returns home; it is a wonder that she is so generous with her time. All of these small things that Señora does impact the student body more than I think she knows. I was studying for Spanish the other day, and a girl asked me who my teacher was. When I told her, she was like, “Oh, Señora Nocton, she’s that cool teacher. I heard you guys have a lot of fun in her class.” One of the things that is so special about Señora is that she does not gain the esteem of her students by being a “pushover.” Rather, students respect her because they know she will return the favor, which is a trait that is sorely lacking in most people.

Señora Nocton also gives back to the school in many ways besides teaching. She is an advisor for the Cultural Awareness Club, so she spends much time and effort planning functions that over one hundred students enjoy. Last month, Señora corraborated with UCAP to organize a premier of the revolutionary documentary, Accelerating America, at our school. All of the profits benefited UCAP, which was a huge help. She even arranged for our school to partner with UCAP, and they are doing a photojournalism project together. Among other activities, Señora has chaperoned many trips to foreign countries, like Costa Rica, Argentina, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Spain. This year, Señora will be leading a group of about twenty students (myself among them) to Costa Rica. Señora had the idea for us visit a Costa Rican orphanage, where we will bring toys and spend time with the children. Worldwide, Señora Nocton is an exceptional educator and person.

For me, Señora Nocton really changed my life. By my junior year, I’d had enough of a “high school experience” to know that I hated high school. My best friend left me because I wasn’t popular enough for her, and both my great-grandfather and my uncle had died, so I didn’t harbor high hopes for junior year. In only the third week of school, my grandfather had a stroke. The doctors said that he was dying, and wouldn’t make it to the weekend. This didn’t seem real, and saying goodbye to a man that meant so much to me was incredibly difficult. The next day, I had a very hard time in school, because I couldn’t cope without knowing if my grandpa was still alive. By the time I got to Spanish, I’d been crying sporadically. As the bell rang, Señora Nocton asked me if something was wrong. I didn’t want to say anything, because I figured that if I talked about it, I’d cry again. However, I knew I could trust Señora, and I told her that my grandfather was dying. She was geniuinely sympathetic, and I could tell that she really cared about me.

That Saturday, my grandpa had another stroke, and he passed away. After a horrible weekend, it was Monday. The funeral would be the next day, so I had to get work from my teachers. I was dreading explaining for the fifth time that I would be missing school, but I didn’t have to. As soon as I went to my desk, Señora Nocton sat next to me and asked how my grandfather was doing. I informed her of his death, and her eyes filled with compassion. She said that she had been thinking about me, and if there was anything I needed, she would love to help. Señora told me not to worry about the work I’d miss, just to spend time with my family. The following weeks were tough, but they were much more manageable because I knew there was a friendly face I could see each day.

The position of “educator of the year” is truly a prestigious one, a title that cannot be bestowed lightly. However, I believe that Señora Nocton is justly deserving of this honor. She constantly goes above and beyond; at the end of the year, her students have not only improved their language skills, they have grown as people through Señora’s example. Señora has impacted my life for the better, and I’ve only known her a few months. I cannot begin to imagine the ways in which she has improved the lives of others. She gives selflessly, never asking for anything in return, but I think it is time Señora Nocton is acknowledged for everything she does, for that is the true measure of an outstanding teacher.





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