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Five Teachers Recognized for Inspirational Story on Becoming an Educator

Zaner-Bloser Celebrates the Winners of Which Teacher Inspired Your Future? Contest

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Feb. 4, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Hundreds of educators from across the country, inspired by a teacher from their past, wrote essays telling their story about why they pursued a career in education. The judges chose five winning essays for Zaner-Bloser's Which Teacher Inspired Your Future? Contest.

In one winning essay, Lydia Gilbert wrote about her favorite teacher, Sheila VerNoy, continuing to work and show courage to her students despite being diagnosed with cancer.

"Mrs. VerNoy always maintained a high level of professionalism even while dealing with cancer," said Gilbert, an elementary school counselor in Bogota, New Jersey. "She always modeled what she wanted us to be with a great sense of sincerity because that's what teaching is about— loyalty, integrity, and honor."

Each winner receives one of five $1,000 school grants.

"We received so many wonderful essays that showed how educators can have a profound and lasting impact on their students," said Bob Page, president of Zaner-Bloser.

Teachers, principals, and administrators across the country in grades K–12 were eligible to write and submit an original essay for the contest. The essays were judged on originality, inspiration, and style.

"With so many excellent entries, judging was a difficult process," said Page. "We want to thank all those who participated in the contest and to congratulate the winners whose essays were chosen. We felt they most effectively conveyed the power of educators to truly inspire their students."

The winning essays can be viewed at

The five contest winners include:

  • Gary Bettinger, Sumter, South Carolina—"You Gotta Have Heart"—In sixth grade, Gary's teacher, Edward Sleefe, weaved his educational magic with stories and tales that engaged the whole class with learning. Mr. Sleefe brought far away cultures closer to home for his students and made the "space race" a real part of the classroom. His teachings showed the class what the future could be, which motivated Gary to become an educator who could pass along the same heartwarming efforts to new students.
  • Lucinda Fleming, DeGraff, Ohio—"Fan of Underdogs"—Lucinda was influenced by her high school assistant principal, Patt Houk, who had a soft spot for underdogs and students who were not stars in athletics or academics, including Lucinda. Mrs. Houk's support encouraged Lucinda to do her best in school and made her feel special. Those teachings influenced Lucinda to become a teacher so she could support the underdogs.
  • Lindsay Foster, Fort Worth, Texas—"Passion for Learning"—Lindsay gained an extensive vocabulary, an ability to think critically, and a passion for learning from her middle school English teacher, Veronica Juel. Because of Mrs. Juel, who rewarded students' achievements with sweet treats and dinners at her home, Lindsay realized that a teacher could be more to a student than just an educator. Lindsay learned that educators could become a lifelong influence for students—and this energized her to seek a career in teaching.
  • Lydia Gilbert, Bogota, New Jersey—"Legacy of Inspiration"—Lydia's favorite teacher, Shelia VerNoy, poured the same dedication and enthusiasm into teaching English and directing school plays as she did about teaching life's lessons. In Lydia's senior year, VerNoy was diagnosed with cancer. However, she continued to teach and direct—showing dedication, strength, and courage to her students. This was Lydia's inspiration for following the path to becoming a teacher and school counselor.
  • Maria Rodriguez, Miami, Florida—"Touching Students' Lives"—At 12 years old, Maria was a straight-A student when she arrived in Florida from Cuba, but she was immediately frustrated with school because she didn't speak English. However, Maria's English teacher, Herminia Miranda, offered constant reinforcement and spent extra time teaching her a new language. In one year, Maria passed the English-speaking test, inspiring her to become an educator so she could help students achieve goals that seem impossible. 

About Zaner-Bloser
Zaner-Bloser, a wholly owned subsidiary of Highlights for Children celebrating 125 years of experience in education this year, is an educational curricula and digital resources provider in language arts/literacy, 21st century learning, and social-emotional learning. Zaner-Bloser provides flexible solutions and services that improve results and inspire students to become lifelong learners and is committed to meeting schools' needs today—and in the future.

SOURCE Zaner-Bloser

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