Sylvia Alvis 6th Grade Old Quarry Middle School

Jennifer Klukas – Old Quarry Middle School Teacher

If I were to ask myself the question, ‘how have my teachers shaped me?’, I would probably remember teachers from years and years ago, the lessons they taught me that impact me heavily now. I would remember how they taught me about the value of hard work, kindness, and gave me other fundamental skills I wouldn’t be where I am today without. All of my teachers have been incredible preachers of valuable lessons that have taught me so much. They have given me a love of learning that stretches deep. Maybe because of my own obliviousness, or maybe because of a long term impact, it is rare that a teacher impacts me in the moment. I must, though, thank one of my current teachers for impacting me every day. Mrs. Klukas pushes me and all her students to be the best version of themselves. She lets her students be creative and understands their capabilities and limitations. She is a stellar teacher that inspires her students every day!

If Mrs. Klukas had taught me anything, it would be the value of my accomplishments and contributions. When I came into 6th grade, I was ready to distinguish myself. I always had before, but in 6th grade it felt more meaningful. This was because through it all, I had my teacher as cheerleader. I felt recognized and fulfilled, and inspired to work harder because of the impact I felt with her encouragement. She inspired and encouraged not only me, but my other classmates. In her class, we all are recognized.

Another way Mrs. Klukas differentiates herself as a teacher is her way of handling students. Most teachers, when kids are talking, will get angry and yell or give you the silent treatment. They will punish you before you even have a chance to justify yourselves. She has a unique way of talking to her student body and quieting them down without getting angry. There is a certain sway she commands among her students to where she has complete control and we never feel patronized. Even though she is a veteran teacher, you’ll still find her joining into fun activities and sympathizing with her students.

Mrs. Klukas is a prime example of a teacher who still loves what she does. Every day, she is still patient, considerate, and honest with all her students. And I can only imagine the fulfillment she gets, giving students knowledge and inspiration and helping them find themselves every day. Being a teacher is a job that revolutionizes and stabilizes the economy, and helps kids be whoever they truly want to be. Mrs. Klukas and many other incredible teachers are role models. They are everyday heroes. So thank you, Mrs Klukas. This last year I have grown so much with your help. You have impacted all of your students more than you know. Thank you to all of my teachers. You have helped make me who I am today, someone I am (and hope to keep being) proud of.

Brooke Lepore 7th Grade Everest Academy

Glenn PurpuraEverest Academy Catholic Formation and History Teacher

“Teachers who love teaching, teach children to love learning.” (Robert John Meehan).

That’s what Mr. Purpura does. In class, Mr. Purpura enthusiastically makes class fun. His class has its challenges, but it’s never too difficult. Unknowingly, Mr. Purpura has changed my critical perspective on life. When he educates his students, he also tries to connect with them. Impacting a student’s life while simply teaching a lesson is difficult because one never knows what a student is experiencing, but I’m happy it happened through his teaching.

Mr. Purpura is a teacher who displays essential virtues such as perseverance, kindness, and patience. Describing him as a great person would be considered an insult. In less than two years, he’s shown me how to challenge myself, even when I’ve felt it’s too difficult to do. Unfortunately, I sometimes feel as if the things I do have no impact, but Mr. Purpura showed me something as simple as sitting in the front row slightly encourages others to follow. He shows that I have qualities in me I never thought I had. Mr. Purpura has helped me appreciate the values of life. When I feel down, I go very deep into thought, and sometimes, Mr. Purpura’s example in and out of class, makes me go deeper into thought, and helps me realize that things could be way worse, and that everything I’ve been given should be a cherished gift. Gifts shouldn’t go to waste. With Mr. Purpura’s guidance and experience, he’s helped me see what kind of person I want to be when I’m older.

Mr. Purpura is an outstanding teacher who shows me how I can push myself to be better without pressuring myself. While Mr. Purpura is a serious person, he still knows when it’s okay to add a bit of humor. Inspirationally, Mr. Purpura has truly accomplished a strong relationship with God. Knowing the importance of relationships with not only people, but with God as well, is a real blessing. He is an inspiring person. A wonderful teacher is someone whom you can trust with something as important as your future.

Mr. Purpura has a very welcoming personality. With his teaching abilities, which have taught me many things, I understand why he is such an extravagant person. While having Mr. Purpura as my teacher, I’ve recognized the way he makes our school feel like family. Woefully, middle school is a hard age. Many people, including me, have to hide behind a mask in order not to be judged, bullied, or disincluded. I don’t want that. Being yourself is a hard thing, but Mr. Purpura made me realize it doesn’t have to be. Bottles of water cost a dollar at a store, and six dollars on a plane. The only thing that changes the value is the place. Mr. Purpura has been unintentionally teaching me how to find the right place, but that’s what I’ve loved learning from him the most, my inspirational teacher.

Molly Trsitano 8th Grade Pleasantdale Middle School

Carissa Zill – Pleasantdale Middle School Teacher

My name is Molly Tristano, and I’m an eighth grader at Pleasantdale Middle School. My teacher inspired me by treating everyone with equality. For example, she acknowledged the abilities of special needs kids instead of their disabilities, and she showed understanding to all individuals. During my time in her class, my art teacher and the Special Olympics coach, Carissa Zill, have always inspired me. I further helped her by being an assistant coach. During my time in her art class in fifth, sixth, and eighth grade, Miss Zill’s consistent kindness deeply impacted me. She patiently helped me with my art projects, demonstrated understanding of people in challenging situations, and avoided making hasty judgments. Her continuous display of kindness has inspired me to start trying to copy her behavior and to also treat others with the same level of compassion and understanding. I began to help people and volunteer more. Thanks to Miss Zill’s inspiration, I joined the Special Olympics team as an assistant coach. Through this role, I have not only supported my brother but also positively impacted many other kids with special needs by assisting them in sports and fostering positive relationships among them. I ensured their days concluded positively and consistently encouraged them to show kindness and empathy towards others. I have continued in this role as an assistant coach for three years. Throughout the Special Olympics practice sessions, I actively showed kindness by providing personalized encouragement to each child, focusing on their unique abilities and strengths. For instance, I created a supportive and positive environment by providing personalized encouragement, focusing on their unique abilities and strengths, to help them thrive and grow. Miss Zill’s guidance and mentorship were crucial in empowering me. For instance, she taught me strategies to effectively communicate with children with special needs, which enabled me to create meaningful connections and positively influence their growth and well-being. Miss Zill’s unwavering support, kindness, and dedication have made her the best role model at the school, directly inspiring me to volunteer and give back to the community. In this way, Carissa Zill serves as my source of inspiration.

Walter Pawlikowski 8th Grade Madison Junior High School

Erika McCann – Madison Junior High School Teacher

I am very excited to submit this essay about my 6th and 8th grade Band Teacher, Mrs. Erika McCann. I am currently an 8th grade student at Madison Junior High School in Naperville, Illinois, and Mrs. McCann serves as one of two band teachers at my school.

Mrs. McCann comes to school every day with a positive, enthusiastic attitude. She shares her love and passion for music with her students. She is kind and funny when she teaches. Mrs. McCann pushes all students to perform at their best while not being overly critical. This is a strong quality, as middle school band students make many mistakes when learning new pieces of music! Mrs. McCann supports students in all of their academic and extracurricular pursuits, and not just music. Most importantly, Mrs. McCann puts the well-being of students above her own well-being. She gives up her lunch to allow students to practice their instruments during recess while mentoring them. Mrs. McCann also came to Madison to teach, bringing her “A game”, when her family was going through a health crisis.

The joy that music and teaching bring to Mrs. McCann is contagious. She has inspired me to grow and develop my skills in music. I play the trombone, and when I was in her 6th grade band class, Mrs. McCann encouraged me to audition for the Naperville Youth Symphony Orchestra, or “NYSO”. Mrs. McCann also helped to prepare me for this audition by meeting with me individually. With her guidance, I earned a seat with NYSO’s Philharmonia Orchestra. I still play with NYSO to this day.

I have also been playing in Madison’s Jazz Ensemble, an extracurricular band led by Mrs. McCann, since 6th grade. Within Jazz Ensemble, Mrs. McCann stretches my music skills by pushing me to take on solos within the pieces we play.

With Mrs. McCann’s help, I earned Madison’s Ionian Award in 7th grade. This is given to students who can play all twelve Illinois Music Education Association (ILMEA) scales without making an error. I was also recognized by Mrs. McCann and Madison Junior High in 7th grade with the school’s Maestro Award, which is given to a student who displays exemplary musicianship and technique on their instrument.

Lastly, Mrs. McCann encouraged me to audition for the 2023 Junior Concert Band within ILMEA District 9. I was fortunate enough to win a seat playing with the Junior Concert Band. This was a difficult activity, but also very rewarding.

I have been extremely blessed and fortunate to have been mentored by Mrs. McCann. I attribute my musical accomplishments to her guidance. Because of this, I plan to continue my musical pursuits in Marching Band, Concert Band, and Jazz Band in high school. I am grateful for all that Mrs. McCann has done for me, and I know Mrs. McCann’s assistance is something that she shares with all students under her direction.

Elliot Dellamano 7th Grade Old Quarry Middle School

Mrs. McFadden 7th Grade Old Quarry Middle School Teacher

Have you ever had a teacher who has inspired you to do great things? That is what my English Language Arts (ELA) teacher, Mrs. McFadden, has done for me. I am in 7th grade and I go to Old Quarry Middle School. If you asked me a few years ago, “Hey, do you ever think you would like to write a story or something?” I would have responded with “no, thank you” But now I would respond with “sure,” and that’s all because of Mrs. McFadden.
My name is Elliot, and I have good life. I have friends, a home, and a loving family. One thing I love to do is write stories. They could be about anything – fiction or nonfiction. I just love the whole concept of storytelling. But a few years ago, I really didn’t like it. I would have to write essays and it would be so boring. When 7th grade first started, I still did not like writing. Now my ELA teacher, Mrs. McFadden, has made writing so exciting and a lot easier.
It all started when we had this one assignment where we were to write a Fast Fantasy Story (a fantasy story is where you must use no more than 900-1000 words). Now, I am a big fan of fantasy. So, I was pretty happy about it and I got right to work. I worked on it for hours and I was really happy to turn it into Mrs. McFadden. I felt really inspired.
Another thing that I found inspiring was how Mrs. McFadden taught our poetry unit. We learned all about one of the best poets ever, Edgar Alan Poe. I love his poems and they make me happy. My favorite is the Raven. Back to Mrs. McFadden. She assigned this one assignment that was a murder mystery about Edgar Alan Poe. He was killed and the murder suspects were characters from his poems. The cool part of this project was that everybody in the class was given a character to represent. I was the Red Death. It
was awesome. Honestly, I love all of the fun assignments she gives us and her general spark in my day.
The fun times I have had in her class are the best part of my day. I have learned so much from Mrs. McFadden. I have improved my grammar and my skills around thinking. Mrs. McFadden has taught me to be more creative and how to take time and write longer stories and essays. After all the awesome assignments and fun times we had, she is also very caring. Every day when we leave school she tells us to have a good day and she means it. She cares about us. Even though I have not been the best in her class. I can truly say that my ELA teacher Mrs. McFadden has inspired me the most.