For the 14th straight year the Phillies are celebrating great educators in the region who are making a difference during Teacher Appreciation Night presented by GDF SUEZ.
The Teacher All-Star contest asked students and adults to nominate teachers who had an impact on their lives.
The response was overwhelming as we received over 1,000 teacher nominations of great teachers doing amazing and memorable things. Some letters made us laugh, others made us cry but all touched our hearts. Judging these amazing letters was an enormous challenge but the experience was tremendously rewarding.
Thank you to the Judges who helped to select these amazing teachers!
We can all think of a teacher who had an impact on our lives. The Phillies' players are no different. Centerfielder Ben Revere did not hesitate when we asked him to name his favorite teacher. In fact, he came up with two. Sharon Calhoun and Joan Wood were Ben's teachers at St. Mark School in Richmond, Kentucky.
Ben Revere on Sharon Calhoun and Joan Wood
At St. Mark School in Richmond, Kentucky, Ms. Calhoun and Ms. Wood helped me to become the person I am today. They are the two ladies who really helped me in life.
Without them academically, I have no idea where I would be today. I can tell you, though, it wouldn't be here. They stuck with me through thick and thin. To this day, they continue to help me. When I am in town, we go out to eat and catch up on what is going on in each other's lives.
They both told me when I was younger that if I wanted to be a superstar then I had to work hard - that nothing came easy. They showed me that hard work has rewards, and they pushed me throughout school, even after I left their classrooms.
Ms. Calhoun taught math class. When I entered the class, I wasn't quick. Some kids just got the problems right away, and that wasn't me. Ms. Calhoun really helped me with math. She made it click. All of a sudden I started to understand math, and I went from not doing well to getting all A's.
Ms. Wood taught religion and reading. She showed me how important it was to be a strong reader. She said that would help me in all areas of my life, and she was right.
I'm an active person and they would get on me. They taught me about hard work and being respectful. When I understood that they were on me and pushing me to help me, I began to work hard to make sure that I was doing right by them. I praise them both every day for being on me. I worked hard to succeed in school, and when I graduated from high school they told me to never change.
I promised them that I would stay the same person and I think I have. I really thank them for all they did for me.
Sharon Calhoun on Ben Revere
I'm overwhelmed that Ben would choose me to be honored in this way. It's such an affirmation of the work that I did on behalf of so many students. Teachers work very hard, for long hours, and it's wonderful to think that a student appreciates those efforts. It's quite humbling.
I taught Ben in 6th, 7th and 8th grade - Science, Math and Art, with a little music, set design, and dance thrown in! We were at St. Mark School in Richmond, Kentucky.
The thing that set Ben apart was his focus on his goals for his future. He knew that he wanted to be a Major League Baseball player even in sixth grade, and the decisions he made about classwork and homework were ones that would move him toward that goal. He worked hard and was an honor roll student at St. Mark. It was a joy to be his teacher and help him move toward his goals!
Ben's sense of humor and his infectious smile drew everyone to him! He had a servant's heart and made sure everyone felt included, and he exuded a joy of life that was irresistible. I loved seeing him walk into my classroom smiling that huge smile, laughing and talking to his friends, always the center of the action.
When Ben was in middle school, Joan and I were part of a team that worked together to help him achieve his dreams. Ben, his parents and his teachers made up the team, and we all were committed to doing our part. Having Ben as a student for all three middle school years presented an opportunity for a real closeness to develop.
We stayed in touch with his family through his high school years, and have followed his career closely. We watched Ben and his high school baseball team win the Kentucky state championship, and we were so proud of him. Seeing him playing in the majors is so exciting, because there's just nothing better than seeing young people achieve their goals!
He's still the same fun-loving kid we knew, living his dream on the field. All his hard work and perseverance, both in the classroom and in his training, are paying off, and it's just amazing to be able to share it all with him. It's such a joy to know that he values the time and effort we invested in him, and the love we have for him and his family.
Joan Wood on Ben Revere
I am incredibly honored that Ben chose me to represent the dedicated teachers that work with students everywhere. Being able to work with kids like Ben has always been a blessing to me. As many teachers know, our students often teach us as much - or more - than we teach them. This was certainly true of my time with Ben. I taught Ben in 6th, 7th and 8th grades at St. Mark School in Richmond, Kentucky. I taught several subjects including reading, social studies and religion. I also worked with Ben as his director in our school dinner theater. Ben was memorable for both his dedication and tenacity. He was determined to succeed in his academic world as well as the athletic. While being naturally gifted as an athlete, Ben struggled at times with scholastic pursuits. His natural talent in sports only contributed to the amazing work ethic he evidenced in his training. The same was true in his school subjects. If he "didn't get it" the first time, he would work and work and work at it until he did, whether it took one-on-one time, extra assignments or after-school tutoring. He was fearless when it came to asking questions, and that effort served him well. It was a joy and privilege to work with him.
I could probably write pages about what I remember most about Ben, but I'll limit myself to two thoughts. First of all, Ben demonstrated on a daily basis his soul-deep knowledge of to Whom he belonged. Although he was a non-Catholic in a Catholic school, he witnessed to all of us what it is like to be a Christian. Ben was loved and, yes, "revered" by his classmates.
Recently I heard Ben speak at a collegiate baseball banquet, and in that talk he referred to times early in his school career when he had been teased or bullied. I was totally taken aback. Kids at our school respected or were in awe of him. And that brings me to the second part of my answer.
They loved him - we all loved him - because he was hilarious! Ben's sense of humor diffused tense situations, made hard work enjoyable and brought us all daily smiles. He stole the show every time he was on stage in our productions, whether he had a line or not! He and his sister, Courtney, could really "break it down" at our school dances. He was an athlete there, too.
It's amazing to see Ben play today, but no surprise. I told him in middle school I would see him play in the pros someday. I just wasn't sure whether it would be football or baseball. But I should have known it would be his first love. Sharon always sends me a "heads up" when he makes an amazing play so that I can watch the video footage. His injury at the end of last season was a scary disappointment, but no worries now - he's back in full force!
The bond we have with Ben is one of those indescribable gifts that life gives us. We just accept it in joy and gratitude. Being honored at the baseball banquet at Eastern Kentucky University was a total surprise! We couldn't believe it! I kept wanting to say, "You were the one who did all the work! We just enjoyed being along for the ride!!" We tried to get to Ben's games when we could at Lexington Catholic, when he was drafted with the Twins and when he has come to play in Cincinnati. Brenda, his mom, is wonderful about keeping us posted, and it's always great to see John and Courtney, too. They are a wonderful family. Every time we are able to meet up with Ben, it is special - the same twinkle in the eyes, the same strong, heart-felt hugs. I can't wait to see what the future brings for him. He's in my daily prayers, and I know we are in his.