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Four short stories from Primacy employees on teachers that have made a difference in their lives.

American Education Week Primacy

Being the youngest of 3 daughters, I knew my Mom had her hands full as it was. On top of that, she was a special-needs reading teacher, constantly giving back to her community and her students.  But she never anticipated the tragedy that would hit our family when her husband – my dad – passed away from cancer at the age of 41 in ‘92.  She was forced to make a decision – either constantly ask “why me?” and be closed off from life, or take hold of her future and lead her family down a positive path.  She chose the latter, and has been an inspiration to myself, my sisters and her students ever since. My Mom has been a single parent and full-time teacher, raising her 3 girls and special-needs reading students ever since I can remember.  She’s always chosen a path of discipline and family values, proving that you can overcome true hardships and see the positive in life.  Not only is she our support system, but she’s also the support system for her students after 30-years of teaching in the same school – Chestnut Ridge Elementary in Churchville Chili, NY.  She has taught hundreds of students to read and write after they were told they never had a chance to succeed, and allowed them to see the positive progress in their lives.  No matter what she went through in her personal life, she was and continues to be there for her kids – both in school and out.  I’m proud to recognize her dedication to education during this important week!

- Allison Font

My fiancé has worked at New Britain high school for the past 7 years.  Within the past two years he has been volunteering as a football coach at the school.  He gives way more than just his hours on the field, he's also there for his players off the field.  One year he had a player that did not speak much English, whose family was very poor.  This player attended practice everyday, but was using his school sneakers for practice because he couldn’t afford another pair of sneakers.  My fiancee asked this student what size shoe he wears (using mostly hand signals and broken Spanish), and they just happened to be the same size.  Without thinking twice, my fiancé came to practice the next day with a pair of his sneakers that had just been sitting in the closet.  He approached the player with the sneakers, and told the boy that he could borrow the shoes for the remainder of the year - my fiancee had no intention of ever taking them back.  This small act of kindness (which happens more often than we hear about) was something he did because it made this kids life a little bit easier.  This player was now able to come to practice without embarrassment, with a sense of pride, and was able to be a kid and have fun playing ball with his team mates.

- Danielle Amaral-LeBlanc

When I was in 4th grade, I had an assignment to tell a story that followed the repeating format of “fortunately <this happened>, but unfortunately <something else happened>”. It had a lot of twists and turns for a nine year old mind. I crafted a story about a child’s birthday party gone awry, with a massive mess and Mom and Dad on the hook for cleanup (possibly taken from actual events). Satisfied with the result, I turned it in and forgot about it. Until I got word from my teacher, Mrs. Siebert, that she wanted me to read the story in front of the entire school at an assembly. I was terrified. My mother was beyond proud. On the day of the assembly, I vividly remember my name being called, and walking to the front of the podium, nervous beyond comprehension. Words starting rushing out of my mouth, I remember fumbling trying to turn the pages. I also remember laughter – not at me, but followed by the lines I was reading. My story was entertaining a room full of people. It had a calming effect and eased the apprehension I had. I remember finishing up the last line to cheers and applause and walking off the stage not only with a sense of relief, but with pride and accomplishment. For American Education Week, I’d like to say thanks to Mrs. Siebert who encouraged a young boy to tell a story that he’ll remember for the rest of his life. Some teachers have a way of making an impact in a person’s life – maybe without even realizing it – by simply encouraging their students to go for it.

- Greg Bradley

I have so much respect for people that have devoted their career to educating young people. I can’t think of a more important job. In college, I had a public speaking professor, Dr. Arthur Dauria, who really believed in me and was a strong advocate when I was getting started in my career.  There is no doubt he inspired my own confidence in myself, helped spark my career and change my life for the better. Now, I also see up close the devotion and energy of the extraordinary teachers that have helped my children get off to a good start with their own education.  Like Donna Rahtelli and Bobbie Blizman, and their principal Mary Maloney.  I would be very remiss if I also did not mention my wife, Karen, who has done a kick a%# job homeschooling two of our children for the last few years.  Or my brother/sister, Maureen and Andy Irvin in law who have devoted their lives to education.  If there is one thing that, to me, binds all of them together, it is their passion for children and learning.

- Mike Stutman