Congratulations to
Life-Changing Teaching Award Nominee
Tinley Wickersham
Alice Deal Middle School

It is so early in the year, and I'm so new to distance learning, that this is all so daunting. I have only known Mrs. Wickersham for a few months and she has already made this online environment so much more personal. I remember on the first day of school I set my alarm and was prepared for the day to go just according to my plan, it didn't. By the end of the first day, I was so discouraged, I thought for sure that online learning was going to change me for the worse. Mrs. Wickersham was/is my "huddle" teacher, which means she not only teaches my history teacher, but every morning at 9:00 am she is the first teacher I have. On the first day of school, she said that "huddle" was going to be a time when we all got to know the small group of people in that 9:00 am class a little better. She said that this was going to be a place where we would all feel safe and supported because its easy to feel small and neglected in middle school, even more so in an online environment. I was absolutely positive that it would never work at first, sure that online learning was awful and nothing could change that, Mrs. Wickersham changed my mind. After about two weeks of trust exercises and inside jokes, my negativity faded to skepticism, and after another week I found myself actually having fun. One time our huddle class decided we were going to play Kahoot, Mrs. Wickersham claimed she was undefeated and that we would never be able to beat her in any game of Kahoot. However, she did say that she at least want ed to give us a chance so she said that we could pick the genre of game. Up for the challenge, my huddle group unmuted themselves and started calling out suggestions. When I suggested the subject Harry Potter (which I am a huge fan of and know practically everything about), Mrs. Wickersham excepted. We all logged into the online game and began to take it. By the end of the game, I was first with two students in second and third, We were all so proud of beating Mrs. Wickersham that I didn't even realize that the students in my huddle had banned together to take her down. For the first time, I felt like part of a team, and I think that was Mrs. Wickersham's goal the whole time. She is continuing to make me feel happy about school in this troubled time, and I would like to go back to in-person school sometime this year, but even if we don't, I look forward to going through seventh grade with Mrs. Wickersham to help me.
Caroline Reilly

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