Teachers learn of their impact through student selections

The “My Jersey, Your Impact” experience gives educators an idea of the positive influence they have had on young people.
Posted on 02/08/2023
Quakertown Community High School senior Zach Borzio shares his jersey with his second-grade teacher, Katie Robbins. By Gary Weckselblatt

When you’re a second-grade teacher, and a former student, now a high school senior, visits your class to let you know the impact you had on him, that’s a special moment.

Katie Robbins of Pfaff Elementary found out just how special on February 3rd, when Zach Borzio stopped by to let her know what she meant to him.

Zach, who brought a picture of himself as a second-grade student, also gave Mrs. Robbins his wrestling jersey as a one-day gift. It’s part of a new tradition called “My Jersey, Your Impact,” where senior athletes bring their jerseys to their favorite teacher to wear or hang in their classroom. The idea was inspired by high school social studies teacher Kate Kemp to show teachers “they are valued and appreciated. “In the end, the kids do appreciate what we do every day.”

Each senior student-athlete who chose to participate was asked to write why they chose a certain teacher. Zach said “Mrs. Robbins, who I formerly knew as Miss Gryshuk, taught me many of my founding values in the second-grade classroom. I was taught to respect others, to be creative, and most importantly to have fun. I even attended her wedding ceremony. While it has been years since I have seen Mrs. Robbins, I utilize the core values she instilled in me on a daily basis.”

Mrs. Robbins was emotional at Zach’s thoughtfulness. “I cried like a baby,” she said. “I was so honored and humbled by it. I feel really blessed that I get up every morning to do something that I truly love.”

In all 11 students selected teachers to award their jerseys to. Olivia Litvinchuk, a swimmer, framed her swim cap for Richard Batz. “This teacher helped me move to the next level in my athletic career,” wrote Olivia, who will be a rower at Temple. “He was one of the few mentors I chose for Temple to reach out to during the recruiting process. He has always been supportive of my swim progression and I always enjoy the daily conversations on how my season is going.”

Mr. Batz, a biology teacher, said “As a teacher, you’re building that long-term relationship and trust. It’s always nice seeing a student’s success.”

Government teacher Andrew Boquist was chosen by two students, Kayla Sicher and Ty Wilkin. Kayla wrote: “Always makes me smile even if i’m having a bad day or very tired from a long late game the previous day. He is also very good at telling when someone is not feeling one hundred percent and making sure that they are ok without drawing much attention to them.” Ty wrote: “I choose Mr. Boquist because he has had the utmost respect from me all year long. I have him for Ap Gov and Ap Econ, so I see him twice a day, yet I don’t get tired of him. Everyday he says ‘welcome to a new wonderful day’ and it shows me that he cares about his students and what he teaches. I am also very interested in both classes, and when I need help he doesn’t hesitate to help me and give up his time. He’s an all around great teacher and a better man and has impacted me in ways that will help me in the future. Thanks Mr. Boquist!”

Mr. Boquist, who hung up a girls and a boys basketball jersey in his class, said “To be recognized by students for the contribution we make in their lives, that’s why I teach. To know that you’ve made a positive impact is special.”

Wrestler Hailey Kuliga awarded her jersey to coach Kurt Handel. “Mr. Handel is not only my teacher for the past three years, but he is also my wrestling coach,” Hailey wrote. “Any time I felt anxious, upset, or insecure about something in my life I would talk to him about it. He would listen to me and give me advice. … I continue to update him about my life. He pushes me as a student, an athlete, and as an individual. One thing that he always says that I take to the world every day is, ‘all grit no quit.’ Mr. Handel was a big influence on my high school experience. Thank you for everything you do coach.”

Coach Handel said, “I guess what you do in class, when you can speak to the kids on their level, it goes deeper than you could ever imagine.”

Madison Dager, a bowler, shared her jersey with social studies teacher Sean Burke. “Mr. Burke has been one of my biggest supporters since the beginning of high school,” Madison wrote. “He never fails to make me laugh and is always checking in on me no matter how long it’s been since I’ve last seen him. Mr. Burke is a great guy who treats everyone with respect.”

“There are so many moving parts to teaching,” Mr. Burke said. “Madison was my student three, four years ago, so there was a positive impact.. You don’t always see it, but in this case it was there and I’m grateful. Hey, we are making a difference.”

He also praised Kate Kemp for the “great initiative. You can tell it means a lot to the kids.”

Several additional students praised their favorite teacher, including:

Callan Abel (Girls Indoor Track) to Ms. Li: “Ms. Li has supported me through good and bad moments throughout my four years of being in this high school. She always makes sure that I am okay and seeing her makes me feel like my days become more manageable. She is so kind, loving, and concerned about the people around her, so I truly look up to her as a role model as well. Ms. Li is a very special person that always brightens my day.”

Tori Rock (Girls Basketball) to Mrs. Mushrush: “I chose Mrs Mushrush because she always helped by giving me strategies to stay organized with assignments and homework, that I still use today. She was the reason I came to school (at Milford). She always has a smile on her face.”

Lilly Bauz (Swimming) to Mr. Snyder: “This teacher helped me through more than just my swimming season. He helped guide me through some challenges of life throughout the year. He made an effort to make sure I felt like I had a place to speak my mind. This teacher helped me grow and understand who I am as a person.”

Julia Henry (Girls Basketball) to Mrs. Waddell: “Mrs. Waddell created a collaborative atmosphere in AP Calc last year. Playing Sporcles as a class helped bond us. She was always helpful at PRIDE when I asked for clarification with the material. She gets to know her students on a personal level. Mrs. Waddell graciously takes time out of her busy day to write personalized letters of recommendation. I greatly appreciate all of her support over the past two years.”

Cody Stank (Wrestling) chose Mrs. Sharp as his favorite teacher.

Gary Weckselblatt, QCSD Director of Communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529- 2028 or [email protected].
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