Hollis school participates in national contest

Friday, February 24, 2012



HOLLIS – Letters, poems and essays penned by students at Hollis Upper Elementary School comprise more than 167 entries to this year’s “My Favorite Teacher Contest,” an annual project sponsored by Barnes & Noble.

The school’s students in fourth- fifth- and sixth-grades, intend to win for their school the grand prize of $5,000 and for their winning teacher another $5,000, plus the prestigious title of “Barnes & Noble National Teacher of the Year.”

The increasingly popular contest, according to Kathy Puglisi, of the community relations office at the Barnes & Noble store in Nashua, provides an opportunity for students to express how much they appreciate their favorite teachers.

National, regional and local awards of cash prizes for the selected teachers and the teachers’ schools, along with NOOK eBook Readers and other gifts, are at stake. The contest ends March 1. Students enrolled in elementary, middle or high schools throughout the country are competing.

Candice Fowler, principal of HUES, and Amy Bottomley, assistant principal, shared a look at some of the students’ entries, written during library periods under the direction of Brenda Nickerson, the school’s media specialist.

Fowler read one nomination from a sixth-grader that took the form of a letter addressed directly to a teacher named Mrs. Peterson. Principal Fowler smiled at reading, “I don’t think school would be the same if you ever left. You helped me a lot in school and you are the kindest person I’ve ever met.”

Bottomley pulled a different entry out of the stack of papers and read one fourth-grade student’s opinion of an art teacher, Mr. Pope. Bottomley shook her head, awestruck, when she read the student’s observations that Mr. Pope “doesn’t look at me as a student, he thinks of me as a fun, artistic person. When school starts again on Mondays, I can just look forward to his art class.”

Nearby, Jamie Gough, a teacher who has taught students in each grade level, became misty-eyed as she too read some submissions. A student had nominated her, writing in the entry, “She is the one who helped me understand fractions.”

Meanwhile, the students’ entries continued to extol the virtues of favorite teachers. There were letters of nomination for Mrs. Lockard and Mrs. Miller and Ms. Noonan. Every teacher at the school seemed to be in contention for the title of “My Favorite Teacher of the Year.”

One student wrote her nomination in the form of a letter to God.

The nomination began, “Dear Lord God, Thank you for bringing my homeroom teacher, Mrs. Moreau, into my life. She is the best teacher I have had in my short lifespan of nine years. She has jet black hair that is short, Lord, because she donated it to people who lost theirs.”

The letter continued, as did many others intended for addressees other than God. Nickerson said the variety of the youngsters’ submissions was an expression of their individuality. She said each student embraced with gusto the opportunity to be a part of the Barnes & Noble contest.

“They have been really excited about this project,” Nickerson said. “We’re focusing on the writing. Whether we win or not, the students have put their hearts into this project and the teachers they’ve acknowledged are going to be so pleased.”

Soon, a different group of students filed in for some high-quality library time and the continuation of their recent activity – writing nominations for the “My Favorite Teacher Contest.”

“Think about who has inspired you,” they were told by Nickerson. “Think about naming the teacher who has helped you the most, or brought out your creativity, or made it easy to learn new things.”

A puzzled look crossed the face of one student, who raised her hand and waved it with a sense of urgency. When called upon by Nickerson, the young lady said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

Nickerson blinked. Then, she remembered the girl was absent on the day of the contest’s announcement. All was again well with the world.

Local winning teachers will be honored at the Barnes & Noble located at 235 Daniel Webster Highway in Nashua, on a thus far unannounced date, once all entries are evaluated. They will receive a special award honoring their achievement and a selection of five Sterling Children’s Classic books. Students who write the winning nominations will receive a $25 gift card, a certificate of recognition and be a part of the ceremony for the winning teachers.

For more information about the students’ participation in the Barnes & Noble “My Favorite Teacher Contest,” call the school at 465-9182.

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