That's what we call it.
Every year, every teacher gets to pick a kid.
We can pretty much whoever we want, for pretty much any reason we want.
We use our code of conduct:
DREAM (Dedication, Respect/Responsibility, Excellence, Academics, Motivation, I think).
In May, we have a ceremony.
Usually, I pick a graduating senior.
Sometimes kids keep me.
Many of the stories on this blog are about kids who have kept me.
They are the ones who stick with me.
Not only because we stay in touch past my class freshman year, but also because those are the kids who touch my heart.
As teachers, we aren't supposed to have favorites.
But we do.
Those favorites are rarely the perfect kiddos.
For me, they are the ones who teach me the most.
This year, I couldn't choose a Senior.
I have two choices in mind, one Junior and one Senior.
The problem is that I'm kind of job hunting.
I want to coach or facilitate full time and I am super ready for a change.
Much as I love the Senior in question, the other one is different.
He is special.
I've written about him before.
Earlier this year he wrote me a letter.
Below is what I wrote to him and his family when I selected him:
It is my honor to select xxxx as my Teacher’s Choice Award recipient this year. In the three years I have known xxxx, he has shown enormous growth and self-awareness. I will never forget hanging up a poster of a T-chart he made Freshman year. He informed me others were teasing him because of some minor errors. When I stated (in front of his friends) that his work was brilliant because he was the only one to organize his thoughts in that manner, he turned an endearing shade of red. We developed a strong working relationship after that and it has lasted as he has progressed through his high school career. Earlier this year, he penned a letter to me, saying in part, “When I had you for a teacher you changed the way I thought about school.” It means the world to me that I have played some small part in the smart, accomplished, and engaged student he has become. He has repeatedly insisted he isn’t sure what wants to do with his life. I have every faith he will figure it out and his achievements will be remarkable. I sincerely hope we stay in contact so I am aware of his accomplishments. It is students like xxxx that make teaching the most wonderful profession in the world.
Last night, he came with his parents.
I wasn't totally sure they would.
He laughed at me on the stage.
I deserved it.
We have to do three things and if you get the order wrong it is super awkward.
But I can never remember the order.
So said them out loud as I did them: "shake hands, certificate, medal."
See I told you I deserved it.
We walked off stage together to get our picture taken.
As we were arranged by the photographer, he said, "I'm sorry I'm all sweaty, Ms. Hirsch, I was nervous."
I told him it was totally fine.
I realized in that moment that he had never received an award before.
I showed him where to go and sit on the stage and he got nervous all over again.
I told him I would see him after.
While I was waiting for all the other students to be called, two different teachers said the same thing.
They both told me they thought about picking him.
They were both glad someone chose him.
Between his nerves and their comments, I know I picked the right kid.
Teacher's Choice is always a good thing.