Hurricane Irene knew better than to stand in the way of some talented New Jersey public school students and their heroes. The torrential rains and flooding waited until the winners of the NJEA Trenton Thunder essay contest and their teachers could be recognized in a special pre-game ceremony Aug. 27 on the field of Mercer County Waterfront Park.
The winners were among several hundred students across the state who submitted essays on the topic, “My Hero Works at School.” Members of the NJEA Public Relations Committee judged the essays.
Gillian Dauer from Lawrence Intermediate School in Lawrenceville wrote about first-grade teacher Dawn Santello.
“My admirations of Mrs. Santello are varied,” Dauer wrote. “Her passion to teach every student and her ability to create memories are just a few. She has inspired me to help people as much as I can. She has helped me become a better person. Every time I see her she gives me a hug. I feel all the memories come back in that simple squeeze.”
Christin Pfaff of Cherry Hill High School West School wrote about her English teacher Carolyn Messias.
“Every time I come to her class it brightens my day to see her, because I know she’s the only one who witnesses past my inabilities and looks more at who I am and not who she thinks I am,” Pfaff wrote.
Lysa Legros of Dr. Leroy McCloud Elementary School in Englewood wrote about her guidance counselor Jerome Land. They were unable to attend the event.
“All teachers want the school to be a better place, right?” Lysa wrote. “I say Mr. Land wants the school to be a better place because once I was having a problem with a bully, and now it’s gone since he fixed the problem. As you can see he is a great problem solver.”
The students, their families, and their heroes were the invited guests of the NJEA and Thunder at the Thunder’s game against the New Britain Rock Cats.