Whether teaching life lessons using quotes of famous people, spreading Math cheer, encouraging creative writing, or being a good listener, teachers in Westfield Public Schools were lauded by their students who used poetry, essays, song, and art to thank the educators during this time of COVID.
“The Parent Teacher Council (PTC) recently asked students to submit a story, poem, or drawing highlighting how their teachers have gone above and beyond this year,” says Kristen Sonnek-Schmelz, who with Christine Fernandez and other PTC members spearheaded the community initiative. “Our smiles grew bigger and bigger as we read through the more than 80 entries from across all 10 schools. Each submission reinforced how blessed we are to be part of such an amazing teaching and learning community.”
Two submissions from each school were selected and are currently on display in downtown Westfield’s storefront windows for the month of December. The submissions were beautifully mounted by Wilson mom and graphic designer Tracey Edelstein.
“Mr. Latessa makes virtual learning fun,” writes Jefferson School 5th grader Abigail Drennan in her winning essay about her teacher, David Latessa. “Learning through a computer screen is hard, but Mr. Lattessa always shares his energy through the screen.”
Roosevelt Intermediate School 6th grader Molly McDermott reworked the wording of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” to describe the difficulties of learning a new school under COVID rules and protocols. “As I met Mr. Knight I knew there was nothing to dread, and soon all my worries left my head,” she rhymes in her poem about teacher Jeffrey Knight.
Westfield High School teacher Jeffrey Robbins earned poetic praise from 11th grader Steve Hess: “In times so bleak, where it all reeks of gall, this hard worker has given it his all. His passion to show, to help others know, has made my respect for him grow. It must be hard to teach through a screen, to endow youth with knowledge in ways never seen.”
“She brightens our day as we play, opening our minds and teaching us to be kind,” write 1st grade twins Ahad and Wahid Aslam about their Tamaques Elementary School teacher Linda D’Onofrio. “Thank you for bringing us through. Can’t wait to see you.”
“’Owl’ never forget you, Miss Cristiano!,” kindergartner Daphne Giordano writes in perfect lettering accompanying an intricately colored picture of an owl.
Members of the PTC, along with the individual school PTOs and PTSOs, “extended a huge thank you” to the more than 80 students who submitted “heartwarming stories and drawings honoring their teachers” in the recent Teacher Appreciation Contest.
“Our hearts are filled with the utmost gratitude for the extra time and energy each and every one of our teachers has shared to ensure our children feel safe and excited to learn despite this year’s challenges,” the PTC said in a statement, encouraging members of the community to take a moment to enjoy the student work as they shop locally.