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‘Love your teacher:’ Students pay tribute to great educators

SALISBURY — Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that have the most impact.

For many students in Rowan-Salisbury Schools, it’s not the lessons they’ve heard in the classroom that have influenced their lives but the kindness shown by their teachers.

Those students nominated 70 educators from local schools to take part in a banquet hosted by Rowan Partners for Education. The “Love Your Teacher” dinner was a chance to honor those who had made a difference and to make sure that teachers feel “like superstars,” said Susan Steele, co-chairwoman of the organization.

Students were asked to nominate their favorite teacher and to create a short video explaining how that teacher had influenced their life. The results, Steele said, were overwhelming.

“There’s kindergartners we saw up to seniors in high school,” Steele said. “They ranged from cute to tearjerkers.”

As teachers sat down to a dinner catered by Chef Santos, the winning video submissions were played.

Students talked about how teachers helped them learn or inspired them to find a career. But they also talked about the little things.

One student said her teacher made a point to give her a compliment each day; another said that he knew anything he told his teacher would stay confidential.

An elementary student said his teacher always held his hand as they walked down the hall.

Other students spoke of their teachers’ warm, giving personalities — that they are friendly, open, loving or funny.

“She loves me all week long,” one student said.

Steele said the students’ admiration made it hard to choose just two winners from each school.

“I was just touched by the amount of love the students showed the teachers,” she said.

And that’s what it was all about — not just honoring teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week, but about the cycle of love and caring, from student to teacher and back again.

“It’s really coming from the students’ hearts,” Steele said.

Roughly 300 people attended Thursday evening’s banquet, including the 70 winning teachers. While the winners could attend free of charge, the dinner also served as a fundraiser for Rowan Partners for Education. Money raised will go to support the nonprofit group’s next mini-grant cycle for local educators.

Superintendent Lynn Moody said she and others at Rowan Partners for Education have been working to get something like the Love Your Teacher dinner off the ground for years. It was organized by Christine Gould, a Rowan Partners for Education board member, who said she wanted to give back.

“Why don’t we do something for the teachers?” Gould said she asked herself. “… And this bloomed from there.”

Moody said the night was “tremendous” because of its fundraising capacity and the tribute it paid to teachers.

“It’s important that students have an opportunity to recognize how important teachers are in their lives,” Moody said of the video submissions. “Particularly in this week of teacher appreciation.”

Gould said it is equally important for the teachers to realize how much they are appreciated.

“These kids love these teachers,” she said, “and I don’t know if they know that. I don’t know if they realize how important they are.”

The Love Your Teacher banquet was sponsored by Novant Health. The dinner was sponsored by F&M Bank.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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