Contest WinnersDuring January 2006 Web English Teacher and partner Big Honcho Media held a contest, asking for true classroom stories similar to events in When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. Here, with identifying details changed, are the winners.
This winning entry is from Ruth Connelly of Houston, Texas:
After Hurricane Katrina, we had several students from Louisiana enroll in our school. One big boy, Charles, entered my classroom wearing a school football jersey and with his head down, not making eye contact with anybody. I gave him a temporary seat in the back of the classroom, next to Courtney, a cute, happy-go-lucky cheerleader who loves being the center of attention.
After Charles had been in school for a couple of weeks, Courtney came up to me and asked if I'd give Charles something and not let him know it was from her. Confused, I asked her to explain. She said, "Yesterday Charles said he hoped I wasn't offended that he was wearing the same shirt every day, but it was the only one he had and not to worry because he washed it every night. Mrs. Jackson, that just broke my heart, so I went out and bought him some shirts last night. I just don't know how to give them to him without embarrassing him."
This winning entry is from Shelley Stahl of Macon, Georgie:
One of my former students has an emotional disorder, leaving her especially vulnerable to the ridicule of her peers. She began to withdraw from class activities in response to the behavior of her classmates, skipping class or falling asleep instead of participating. I wanted to be sensitive to this student's special needs and her confidentiality, but I knew that I must also take action in order to help my other students understand and respect her special circumstances. Her resource teacher came to speak to the class (while the student was out of the room), asking them to consider how they would feel if they "always felt sad" and other students mocked them. She and I stressed their responsibility to support and encourage their classmate.
The response was immediate and significant. From the moment the student returned to class, there was a more compassionate atmosphere. I am pleased to note that through the support of her peers, she became outspoken and involved in class discussions, no longer putting her head down to sleep. This student graduated last spring, and I was so proud to see her receive her diploma and the support of her friends as well.
This winning entry is from Carolyn Hedgecock of Haltom City, Texas:
Scarlett and the Spelling Test
It was a Friday and you know what that means...spelling test. Every Friday, we have a spelling test, always have, always will. On the Friday in question, I didn't notice anything unusual until it was time to grade spelling papers. We didn't have enough papers for everyone to have one to grade, so I asked who didn't turn in a paper, no one answered. We had to go through the whole roll before I realized "Toby" had not turned in his paper.
I was about to get a little frustrated with "Toby" until I realized he was crying. I asked him to tell me why he was crying. He was so crestfallen, he couldn't even speak. After class, I asked him to stay for awhile so we could talk about his missing spelling test and crying. It took three of our five minute passing period to get to the truth.
Finally he told me his problem. He didn't turn in his spelling test because he never took it. He spent the testing time writing "Scarlett's" name instead of his spelling words. The reason he was unable to do his work was because "Scarlett" had broken up with him. She had given him a note right before class that said she wanted to break up. To add insult to injury, she added that she really never liked him, and that the only reason she went out with him was to make her old boyfriend, "Juan" jealous. She also said some more unkind things about him...like she would never go out with him for real if he was the only guy at North Oaks Middle, etc. It hurt him so much because "Scarlett" was his first girlfriend. Their romance lasted only two days but I predict it will take him at least 2-3 months to heal his broken heart.
Congratulations to our winners, and to the real winners: their students.