For the 13th straight year the Phillies have teamed up with the Newspapers in Education of The Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News to say thank you to 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 1,500 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. First baseman Ryan Howard did not hesitate when we asked him to name his favorite teacher. Paula Grana was Howard's first aid and physical education teacher while he attended Lafayette High School in Wildwood, Missouri.
I taught First Aid and Physical Education to Ryan when he was in 9-12 grade. He was a good student and always enjoyed learning and participating. Ryan was a great leader both in and out of the classroom. He leads by example in everything he does. He makes the people around him better not just in his role as a baseball player, but in all facets of his life. He continues to be a positive role model for everyone he comes in contact with. His laughter is infectious. Ryan was always motivated to work hard and excel at whatever he was doing. He understands that doing your best is what leads to success. He valued his participation in both sports and music throughout his high school career and knew that success in all areas made him a better all-around student and person. Also, he has always been very appreciative to everyone who has been an influence in his life.
Truthfully, his success is no surprise to anyone who knows him. I love watching him bat. He has always had a routine in the batter's box where he points his bat at the pitcher. He has been doing it since he was in little league. When I see him bat now, it's just like he has always been as a player: same routines, same facial expressions, and same smile.
He has always had such a strong bat, even as a little leaguer. When he was 12-years-old, he hit a ball out of the park and it actually hit the restaurant in the lot behind the ball park! In high school, he hit one over the fence into the yard of a house in a subdivision that backed up to the school. She brought the ball over and complained to the coach about kids throwing balls into her yard. He explained it was from a home run that Ryan had hit. I bet she wishes she had kept that ball!
Ms. Grana was awesome. She was a teacher who didn't allow us to do any less than what we were capable of. She never let us slack off because she believed that we each had the potential for greatness and she wanted that to come out. She worked hard to bring the best out of you. I had her for first aid and physical education while in high schools. She taught us CPR and her class was always fun but she didn't let you get away with anything. She would keep you in line because she understood that while we were high school students, it was important for us to behave in a manner that others would respect us. We didn't want to disappoint her because she believed in us. That meant a lot.
I played baseball with her son Tony so I also saw her not just from the teacher aspect but the mom aspect. She was there rooting the team on during games and her support both in and out of the class meant so much. She made sure to stress to me that doing well in school gave me the opportunity to play baseball or do the extracurricular activities that I liked. If she found out that you were slacking off in anything she would get all over you to straighten up. I'd visit my high school regularly and I would visit her because she had such an impact on me as a person. She would always give me some positive encouragement. Since she retired it has been a few years since I last saw her so I am really excited to see her again.