Example Speech

High School Teacher of the Year Acceptance Speech

I absolutely hated reading when I was a kid, so it’s a little ironic to be receiving this award as an English teacher. But then again, I was also the kid that would play “school” over summer vacation. So maybe it makes sense.

Julia Haug, Linda Hengst, Coleman Hutchison. These are the teachers who inspired me to be a reader, a thinker, and ultimately a teacher. Can you guess what they taught? Yep, English.

English teachers play a unique role in students’ lives. We don’t simply teach students the content. Sure, I make my students prewrite and rewrite, and I’m a stickler for grammatical and syntactical errors and MLA formatting. And I have a Freshman Hit List – NOT for the students I want to “off,” but for words students should avoid because I demand students use precise and meaningful language. I do this not to torture them, but to make them better communicators.

We’re often also the ones that students go to. I have lent an ear to students dealing with breakups, bullying, depression, anxiety, and even a miscarriage. We’re not trained counselors, but we are often the first person students turn to. Even though it’s not my “job,” it is.

And I do it with happily and with pride. Because my best days at school are not the ones when I’ve finally finished grading 140 essays on Lord of the Flies or whittled my inbox down to 12 unread messages. My best days are when I am in my classroom, connecting with my students, teaching them to be critical thinkers, active citizens, and compassionate humans. Thank you.

Wesley Fryer / flickr.com