High school teachers occupy central roles in the lives of teenagers.
As role models, educators and coaches, these adults affect students during a time of great personal and social growth. And most students appreciate their influence.
Each year, varsity football players from Richards High School receive an unusual opportunity to express their gratitude.
On the day of a game, the players present their jersey to a favorite teacher to wear. The gesture carries great meaning for teachers.
Rahaf Othman received a jersey from Santiago Calderon. He told Othman that she was one of the best teachers at Richards.
“It’s a pretty great feeling to be appreciated. It’s an awesome feeling to be referred to as one of the best teachers at Richards,” said Othman.
When asked to explain why Othman stood apart, Calderon spared no words.
“I chose Ms. O because I looked at her as a role model. She always made class fun and actually made me look forward to class. She helped me whenever I needed it. She was great. To sum it up, she’s one of the best teachers at Richards,” Calderon said.
Like Calderon, Andrew Venerable gave his jersey to English teacher Meagan Coleman because of her effectiveness as an educator.
“He said he picked me because he enjoyed my class his junior year and that we had interesting conversations in the class,” Coleman said.
Maybe Savon Robinson, who wears jersey number 7, expressed himself clearest in his appreciation for business education teacher Jamie Soderstrom.
“You have stuck with me through all my smart and not-so-smart decisions. You tell it how it is and don’t yell, because yelling gets toned out. You’re just my guy, Mr. Soderstrom,” Robinson said.