Murray Avenue sixth-grade student Lily Howard has been selected as the first-place winner of the Pennsylvania School Board Association contest for her essay on what public education means to her.
Competing with 800 entrants across the state in grades 6-8, Lily took top honors and she will share her essay today (Oct. 17) in the opening address to the attendees of the PSBA conference. She will speak at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center at 8 a.m.
Below is her essay:
What Does Public Education Mean to Me?
Public education means the world to me. One reason is because it has provided me with a world of limitless learning opportunities. I have learned facts, figures, and most significantly, big ideas. Another reason is that I have learned to be inspired by dedicated teachers. Finally, I have learned to value inclusion and diversity. All of these lessons are laying the foundation for who I am today and who I will be in the future.
Public education has introduced me to many different academic subjects. I have been taught the power of mathematics and the relationship among numbers. In social studies I have traveled back in time to ancient civilizations and learned how their values helped shape my own country. In language arts I can escape to far-away places by reading extraordinary novels like Number the Stars, Snow Treasure, and Letters from Rifka. In art class I have studied masterpieces by Rembrandt, Matisse, and Monet, while music class has provided me instruction on the flute. In each subject I have been encouraged to form my own opinions, express my thoughts, and nurture my talents.
On a more personal level, public education has exposed me to exceptional role models in my classrooms. I have learned from dedicated professionals who work tirelessly for their students. My teachers impart lessons of kindness, individual responsibility, and self-confidence. I have learned that teaching is not a job, it is a passion. My teachers have inspired me to find that calling for myself one day.
Finally, the greatest lesson I have learned from my public education is that of inclusion. Public schools welcome students of all faiths, ethnic backgrounds, and abilities. I have friends who are Jewish, Christian, Asian, and differently abled. Some of my friends excel academically, while others shine in music, art, or sports. Public education provides me with an environment where all these differences are celebrated. I have learned to accept and respect everyone’s differences and have become a more caring and tolerant person as a result.
I do not know what the future holds for me, but I am confident that my public education is preparing me for whatever lies ahead. I believe that the lessons I learn in school will help me make a difference in this world. Perhaps someday I will be able to give back to public education, and “pay it forward” for what it has given me.