Rockridge Junior Elizabeth Johnson was named a recent winner of State Senator Neil Anderson’s “My Inspirational Teacher” Essay Contest.

Johnson, her mother, Angela, and Rockridge English teacher Jay Bizarri were honored by Anderson on May 23 in Springfield.

The contest was to celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week.

According to a release from Anderson’s Office: “In this contest, students have the opportunity to showcase their teacher’s amazing talents by creating an essay that explains how their teacher has inspired them. This is a chance for teachers to hear about their incredible value in our great state.”

Students were asked to submit an essay of 250-500 words about their most inspirational teacher. One winner was selected by Anderson’s staff from each grade for students 9-12.

In Johnson’s essay, she opened with: “It's often the lessons they don’t remember teaching us that are the ones that make the biggest impact. We often take for granted those in our lives who strive to make each day amazing, but the efforts of Mr. Bizarri, a teacher at Rockridge High School, have not gone unnoticed to me.”

She praised Bizarri’s work preparing the juniors each year to take the SAT exam but also lessons that, “showed us different cultures and the world around us.”

Johnson closed her essay by stating: “Those of us who are lucky enough to have him truly appreciate him, he inspires everyone to never give up, to find the hope inside of us that we may not always know about, and to think outside the box. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him, so thank you Mr. Bizarri for being an inspiration, but also for being my teacher.”

While in Springfield, honorees first met Anderson in the chamber, where he spoke with the students to congratulate them, take questions, then take an official photo. Attendees received a tour of the Senate section of the Capitol Building by a historian and then had a boxed lunch in an adjacent building. They then were taken back to the Senate gallery and Anderson was allowed to speak during session and congratulate the honorees publicly in front of the entire State Senate.

Johnson was also recognized at the Rockridge Board of Education meeting on June 10.

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