Teacher of the Year

Natalie and I with Bryce, the student who introduced me. He cried after his speech because he thought he messed it up. What a great kid.

So the teacher of the year stuff has come to a close and as many of you know, we did not take home the title. While I really wanted to win, the more I pray on it and the more I look back over the e-mails, notes and letters folks have sent me I am amazed at the journey God has taken me on. I am amazed at creative and clever God is and how He seems to give just what we need. I feel refreshed and recharged right now, ready to serve.

Beforehand in front of the car the winner gets for a year. The teacher in red next to me, Lisa, was the deserving winner.

Although I didn't get to read this, I wanted to share it with everyone because I have so many to thank for where my life is. This was the speech I had planned and it means more now as I read it afterwords.

God Bless,

When we found out I was a finalist one of the teachers at my school told me, “you know, it is about time this school got one of these.” Those words stuck in me, because she was right. What amazing people I work with everyday. They push and inspire me and even more importantly, they push and inspire kids. I am in awe when I look back over my last 7 years and all of the people who have had a hand at raising me in my school family:

  • Karen Jankwiak
  • BangTam Rose/Miller
  • Kim Thompson
  • Joyce Stevenson
  • Dot Ward
  • Tammy Bishop
  • Patrick Ernst
  • Elizabeth Barnaba
  • Erin Colvin
  • Daniel Zubrowski

It feels like I’m listing off an All-Star roster of teachers. All of whom were part of raising me. I am in awe that I have the honor of representing them and the community of Havre de Grace. It truly is an honor I feel like we have earned together.

This work is hard. It wears you down everyday, at every turn. When these kids are in your heart, there are no breaks. You and your loved ones make sacrifices everyday, some big like deciding not to have anymore kids of your own and some small like my wife bringing a picnic to the school for dinner so you can still eat as a family.

There is always more that we could be doing to help another student, to give another student a chance who doesn’t know what they are capable of. You know it and I know it. The pay, benefits, 6 weeks off in the summer or random snow days will never equal the amount of yourself that you pour into helping students, but like my Pastor consistently reminds me, “God loves me and has a difficult plan for my life.”

It takes an amazing amount of strength to do this.

The truth is, for many years I didn’t have that strength. I sure did try, but I always ran out. There would be great days or even weeks, but the work would beat me. The reason I stand here before you today is because I no longer do this job alone. My family has made the decision and the sacrifice that we will serve together, through my classroom. I go to school every day knowing they are behind me and they help fill my heart with love, patience and passion.

I go knowing that my wife has the same mission that I do: to give each person a chance and to show how love and depending on each other makes us stronger. And I know that my daughters are never lonely or without love because of the way my parents have cared for them and for my family, when I can’t hold them in my arms I know that they are being held in theirs. The love God has built around me makes me better than I am. Everyone should feel that love – NO EXCEPTIONS.

Even more powerful, however, is that I go to school everyday to serve with a partner, a teammate: my God. When I don’t know how to help or what to say; He does. He gives me words, passion, energy and strength that are not mine. He keeps me humbled and focused on my kids. I keep this scripture from Matthew 18 close at hand and read it to myself throughout the day.

the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who is greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven?”

Jesus called a little child to him and put the child among them. Then he said, “I tell you the truth, unless you turn from your sins and become like little children, you will never get into the Kingdom of Heaven. 4 So anyone who becomes as humble as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven.

“And anyone who welcomes a little child like this on my behalf is welcoming me.

Not only do I work at an amazing school, with an amazing staff, but I have the joy of serving God through serving these children – whom God loves and has written his love for them on my heart. I believe each one of us is meant to serve and I am proud to say that I am a teacher. I am proud to stand with you as fellow teachers and say that we made a choice to serve, to give to others, to work in a “we” career when the world tells us we should be working for “me.”

Thank you for this amazing honor and God Bless

I still believe this is an amazing honor...