MRH "Teacher of the Year" Reunites With Her Hero
Everyone has a favorite teacher. But how many of us get the chance to reunite with that teacher, after more than 25 years apart?
Suzanne Rosenthal, a kindergarten instructor at the Maplewood Richmond Heights Early Childhood Center, capped a whirlwind school year this morning by introducing her students to her own third grade teacher from Wren Hollow school in the Parkway district. Rosenthal tracked down Margie Siegel via Facebook, and Siegel was all too eager to accept the offer to speak to the MRH kindergarteners.
The two educators had not seen one another since Rosenthal was a fifth grader.
This year, MRH honored Rosenthal as "ECC Teacher of the Year" and "District Teacher of the Year." Rosenthal was also featured in a teacher appreciation campaign by the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she credited Siegel with her decision to become a teacher. And, Rosenthal delivered an impassioned address to her fellow staffers at the annual MRH employee recognition banquet, where she recalled Siegel's "smile, enthusiasm, and compassion in the classroom."
Siegel told her kindergarten audience that she cried tears of joy each time she watched a video recording of Rosenthal's speech. She also managed to throw in a quick math lesson: she counted along with the students to demonstrate how many years she spent teaching (thirty).
Following is the text of Rosenthal's remarks at the MRH Employee Recognition Dinner:
I was humbled and honored to learn that I was the recipient of the Teacher of the Year award. After a few tears of happiness, gratitude, and disbelief were shed, I began reflecting on my journey as an educator and on all of the people that have influenced my life and career.
When I decided I wanted to become a teacher I was in the 3rd grade. My goal wasn’t to become teacher of the year; it was to make a positive impression on each of my students. It was my 3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Siegel, who made a positive impression on me. I remember her smile, enthusiasm, and compassion in the classroom each day. I knew then, that I wanted to be just like her. My passion in life is educating young children, and I honestly don’t know what I would be doing if I weren’t teaching!
My parents have always pushed me to do my best and go after my goals. I have watched both of them persevere through ups and downs which has taught me to never give up. Their unwavering support has made me the person I am today.
My husband Chris encourages me each day to do and be my best inside and outside of the classroom. I am thankful for his listening ear when I’ve had a long day and for his enthusiasm when I share successes in the classroom.
I am grateful for Cyndi Hebenstreit hiring me 16 years ago with only a year of experience under my belt. She believed in me and has pushed me to be both a learner and leader.
I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for the support of the district and my colleagues, my friends.
To my current team; Kristin Veselsky, Kristin Corrigan, Rebecca Reside, Cristina Stoverink, and Olivia Strazewski - thank you for always listening, for providing support without judgement, for the laughs in the lunchroom, and for sharing your knowledge. I don’t know where I’d be without all of you. It is your individual strengths and unique personalities which help make us the amazing team we are this year, and hopefully, for many years to come! Your friendships get me through the best of days and worst of days!
To my past teammates - you have all made an impression on me. I cherish your advice and continued friendship.
After working in the same building in two different positions for the past 16 years, I have had the unique experience of working with teachers and staff both in and out of the classroom. I am grateful for that opportunity and I feel blessed to have gotten to know so many of you personally and professionally.
I love Team ECC!
Lastly, I can only hope that I am making the kind of impression on each of my students that Mrs. Siegel made on me. My students are the reason I go to work each day with a smile on my face, because you never know what they are going through and when they just need a smile.
For more information, contact MRH School District at (314) 644-4400.