Educator of the Year This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 8, 2018

When I signed up for AP Chemistry this year, I never fully realized the challenges it would bring. Most classes were easy A’s, and I felt up to the challenge—after all, the college credit, accelerated pace of learning, and adventures of an AP course with other determined students could only do me well. And, having taken a rigorous honors chemistry course last year, I figured that the Advanced Placement version could only be so hard…

My goodness, was I wrong.

AP Chemistry has been an unforgettable journey of intense nights, pressurizing tests, and complex laboratory experiments. However, there is one main part of this class that makes it entirely worthwhile, and one of the best classes I have ever taken at Arrowhead High School: my amazing, dedicated teacher, Mrs. Ley.

Mrs. Ley has showed me there is more to a course than grades and academic success. She showed me the importance of asking questions, getting involved in class lessons, and working cooperatively with others. I am generally a quiet student, but I always feel comfortable asking her questions, which is something I cannot do with most of my teachers.

Whenever I walk into class, I know I will experience another exciting lesson, explained in the perfect pace and level for me to understand and presented with clarity, brightness, and enthusiasm. What characterizes Mrs. Ley most is the level of experience she has working with students and the opportunities she provides to make them all successful on the AP exam. Without her, I would have never had the willpower to work through so many past AP exam problems way ahead of the first semester final (on which I received a rewarding A). She is the rare, ideal balance of amusing and strict, and that is what I love.

Without her, I would have never participated in the Chemistry Olympiad, a multi-tiered chemistry competition for high school students, and made it to the national level. It was the hardest chemistry exam I’ve ever taken. I remember the day she announced that any of us could sign up. I thought about it and finally decided the chance to do chemistry outside of school couldn’t hurt—another extracurricular opportunity for my applications was always a good idea. Then came the day when I walked into class after having finished the first exam that weekend, and she told me, “Congratulations! You placed second and now you’re invited to nationals!” It was accompanied by a bright, genuine smile. My jaw must have dropped, for she added, “I’m really not surprised.” Her words made me realize my potential; she said this because she understood my capability. It was another inspiration for me to gain confidence in myself.

Mrs. Ley has allowed me to grow as a person by making her classroom comfortable. Now, labs are no longer scary (like they were last year); rather, they are something to look forward to. Lessons are no longer confusing; they serve me well, help me make progress even in the classroom. And practice tests are no longer intimidating; they are a chance to see where I’m at, to make myself comfortable for the real deal.

Mrs. Ley demonstrates compassion, diligence, and generosity. She is always kind even though her pile of work never ends. She pushes herself to make sure her students succeed. And finally, she sacrifices her time and energy to help students with whatever they need.

This is why I nominate Mrs. Ley as Educator of the Year. I will never, ever forget her amazing class. Thank you, Mrs. Ley, for all that you have done for me.

Sincerely,
Your student,
Serena






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