Christine Rivan's 1st Place Essay

Here at [Thomas Jefferson Primary], F-I-R-E is the infamous 4-letter word.

In June 2008, I had completed 16 years of teaching and the experience of teaching at nearly every grade level. I put all of my spare change from my small teacher's salary into my classroom for the sake of my poor, inner-city students. I willingly spend about $50 per month on school supplies because I know it is necessary. I accept the fact that I won't be able to live in a nicer house and I won't be able to spend money on vacations and other enjoyable things in life. After the students and most teachers left for summer break, I spent about 2 long weeks cleaning and sorting through my accumulated abundance of teaching materials. I cleaned out older, less-used supplies, and unused materials from other grade levels that I had taught in the past. I tossed some out, I stored a few things at home and I sorted the rest to donate to other teachers and schools. I felt good. I felt organized. I felt I had my idea files and all the essentials for teaching organized and ready for the rest of my career.

Then, it happened. A fire [broke out] on Sunday, November 2, 2008. An accidental electrical fire destroyed nearly everything in our school. Thank God no one was in the building. But all of our supplies were gone, either burned or destroyed to ash and soot. It all vanished, all of our hard work, all of our supplies, all of our efforts in creating an enjoyable learning environment. My idea files (collected from 16 years of teaching) and all of those newly organized materials...all gone. We were all devastated.

We are now temporarily holding classes in a different school building, and [slowly] rebuilding what we lost. The community and district have been very kind, attempting to donate or purchase whatever possible, which is difficult in these economic times, [but] we still have a long way to go.

Winning this contest money - whether it be $500, $1,500, or $2,500 - would make a huge difference in our recovery process to rebuild the materials we lost in the fire. Honestly, if I won this money, I would simply turn it over to the principal so that all of our teachers could share the winnings, because this fire happened to OUR school and we all lost a lot.

Thank you for your consideration.