From Clashes to Wisdom

Tell us about a person who has affected your life in a significant way.

I graduated in 2000 from Rockway Middle School, at the time a "C+" crowded public school struggling to improve its programs; to the surprise of some, I did so having had the honor of being taught by several excellent teachers. They may not have been the most eloquent, or even the most knowledgeable in their field, but over the course of three years, two of them blessed me with awareness and empowered me with lessons I am not likely to forget. One of them, Mrs. Mozzarella, a somewhat elderly American woman, handled history classes full of frequently rowdy Miami children with not only poise and kindness, but also the ever-growing desire to further our moral and intellectual development. When I first met her, I was a recent immigrant an overwhelmed, confused child really and she undertook both the practical expansion of my vocabulary and knowledge, and the more complex encouragement of an impressionable and striving mind.

Immersed in stories about John Brown, videos on Ganeesh, reports of the latest earthquake in Turkey, I easily swallowed the information she gave me, for she delivered it with care; an amalgam of cultures myself, I marveled at the universality of feeling, of expression, of life in her lessons. The...

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