Local teachers and students honored, awarded during Sen. McConchie’s annual essay contest reception

Lake Zurich, IL… Students and teachers of State Senator Dan McConchie’s My Inspirational Teacher Essay Contest were honored and awarded during a special reception held at the 26th District office in Lake Zurich as part of Teacher Appreciation Week.

The contest, which was an effort to recognize outstanding teachers and educators from across the district, asked middle school and high school students to submit an essay on their most appreciated teacher. The event acknowledged those students who participated and honored those who they penned as their most inspirational teacher.

Additionally, of the many essays that were submitted, six finalists were selected and announced—one from each grade and one grand prize winner from each division. The grand prize winners were awarded $100 Amazon gift cards to be used for educational supplies.

“It was an honor to celebrate and recognize the students of this year’s essay contest and congratulate them on their winning work,” said Sen. McConchie. “It’s encouraging to see so much enthusiasm and eagerness to recognize the amazing teachers that we have in our schools. Teachers inspire our students and make a positive difference in their lives, and this was just a small and fun way that we could acknowledge all that they do.”

The list of finalists include:

In the middle school category, Aurora Schaefges of Lake Zurich Middle School North, Ella Rosenbarger of Lake Zurich Middle School North, Bree Bachmann of Fremont Middle School, Evan Besancon of Wauconda Middle School, and Pavana Gireesh of Lake Zurich Middle School South.

In the high school category, the finalist was Sophia Khobdeh of Wauconda High School.

The grand prize winners from each category chosen were Ella Rosenbarger and Sophia Khobdeh.

Essays were judged by a panel of educational leaders who evaluated the students’ work on persuasiveness, correct spelling and grammar, and adherence to contest instructions. The winning submissions can be read below!

Grand Prize Winner Sophia Khobdeh

My Inspirational Teacher Essay

by: Sophia Khobdeh

It took me ten years in the public school system to finally determine the purpose of getting an education. To a point, it’s natural for students to resist learning. In a society where productivity is often prioritized over understanding, it can be easy to forget why we go to school. I’ve fallen victim to that mindset countless times throughout my life. I’ve always had an aptitude for English. In my sophomore year of high school, I struggled in it for the first time. I was used to getting an “A+” on every essay I wrote, but suddenly, I was scoring consecutive high “B’s”. It may sound dramatic, but I had never had that happen before. I found myself getting extremely frustrated. Instead of trying to find the source of the problem, I immediately blamed my teacher. Obviously, he had to have it out for me, there was no other explanation. My work had never been anything less than superb. I didn’t realize my mistake until the end of the school year. On one of the last days before summer, Mr. Shogren, my English teacher, assigned an article published by a BYU professor: Diagnosing and Treating the Ophelia Syndrome. This work touches on Ophelia from Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, and how situations like hers occur constantly in the education system. The Polonius (instructor) teaches the Ophelia (student) how to be an efficient worker, successfully replicating the same kind of students with every class. The piece highlights how a generalized teaching method forsakes individuality for supposed perfection. Eventually, everyone taught will work in the same manner, making their contributions unnecessary. When I read the first page of that article, a wave of guilt washed over me. The entire time I had thought my teacher wanted me to fail, he’d only been pushing me to be my best. In ten years, I had never been challenged before.

Because it was the end of the semester, I never got the chance to show Mr. Shogren how he impacted me. Even though I see him every day, I’ve never thanked him for what he taught me that period- what he taught me the whole year, but I only noticed right before I left his class. Because of Mr. Shogren, I now understand what it means to learn rather than memorize or recite. It took him shoving me out of my comfort zone to see something I’ll treasure for decades to come: sometimes to struggle is the best way to learn. It’s only been nine months since I was in Mr. Shogren’s class, but I’ve already viewed my education in a different light. Now, I try to focus on what I can derive from my studies, rather than hyper-fixating on knowing the material for a test or essay and forgetting it a week later. Because of him, I’ll be learning for the rest of my life.

Grand Prize Winner Ella Rosenbarger

My Inspirational Teacher: Mr.Morvaji

By:Ella Rosenbarger 

     Mr. Morvaji has changed my life. He not only teaches us about social studies but he teaches us about being a positive and exceptional person. It all started at Walk Your Schedule, he greeted every student with a water bottle sticker and pencil. Already I felt welcomed into his classroom. When we began studying economics, Mr. Morvaji taught us dance moves and hand movements to remember the six points of economics. When we started doing larger projects and essays, Mr. Morvaji would help us along the way, giving us step-by-step advice and directions and not letting us give up or fail. When we start to fall and lose confidence in ourselves, he will tell us that sometimes you will need to step out of our comfort zone but school is a positive environment and everyone makes mistakes. 

     “Purple words, purple words!” This is a song that Mr. Morvaji sings every time we do the vocabulary words for a unit. This engages the students and makes them want to learn instead of playing games on their iPads. Mr. Morvaji also connects with every student and shows sympathy for our interests outside of school, unlike many other teachers. He even bases some of his teachings on topics that interest us. Not only is he interested in what we do outside of school but he also encourages us to show our peers our talents and interests and connect with them in a new way that might be slightly new. 

    Not only does Mr.Morvaji help us in class, but he helps us during other school hours or after school. He offers lunch bunches and homeroom time to finish projects or to get help on homework that we were struggling with. Not only does he want us to pass his class, but he wants us to leave his class every day with the best grade we can get and a grin on our faces. Mr. Morvaji also lets us take part in the teaching process. For example, he lets somebody be the door opener and the attendance person that takes attendance. This is a wonderful way to include the students and make them happy. 

    At the end of the day, Mr. Morvaji is not only a teacher but he is a friend. He is a friend that cares about all his students and values every one of them. So, this is why Mr.Morvaji is my inspirational teacher.

Dan McConchie

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