Barnes & Noble My Favorite Teacher Winner 2016-17

Laura Braly, Winning Teacher
11th Grade Paramedical Biology Teacher
Dulaney High School, Timonium, MD

Randy Davidson, Student Author of Essay
Grade 12, Dulaney High School

Dear Ms. Braly,

Although I’m not certain you will ever understand how great an impact you’ve had on my life, I can’t help but try to explain it to you.

Transitioning from middle to high school happens during one of the most impressionable times in a student’s life. My family and I found ourselves “residentially-challenged” during my freshman year. While peers were meeting new friends and planning homecoming, I was wondering where our next meal would come from or whether we’d find change to wash clothes. Homelessness is a humbling experience. Thankfully, we persevered.

Unfortunately, my grades didn’t fare so well and I was ready to give up.

For years, I’ve aspired to become a doctor, but teachers kept saying I should just pursue a trade school because of my “academic situation.” Being told I have no real potential solely because of some GPA struggles has been a major blow to my self-esteem. What about me, as a person, and all I’ve accomplished? For years, I’ve been haunted by their words.

Until my junior year, no one cared to get to know the real me. But then I met you, my ‘academic ghostbuster’ of sorts! Enrolling in your Paramedical Biology class was the best decision I’ve made. You got me to open up. You saw my true potential and refused to let me hide it any longer. You taught me how to see that same potential and I noticed a change in myself, almost overnight. I walked taller and smiled more. I couldn’t wait for class, and talked about it for hours afterward. Like a sponge, I absorbed every bit of knowledge you threw my way and I’ve even been able to apply your teachings to help disabled family members and friends when they sustained injuries. That, in itself, took my confidence to new heights.

At the risk of sounding cliché, you have to know that you changed my life. It’s because of you that I am now a straight-A student and have been offered admission to my favorite university.

If you weren’t so good at teaching, I would say that you missed your calling as a Guidance Counselor. Imagine what you could accomplish!

I was devastated to learn that the Paramedical Biology program—that you not only taught, but wrote—may be discontinued after this year. There will always be students like me and they will always need teachers like you to make them feel like they matter! They need you to get them through the pains of high school, and to the future that they deserve.

Thanks to you, I know I have a lot to offer. I’ll do everything in my power to return the favor, tenfold. In fact, I’m a self-taught musician and master of card tricks and you’ve inspired me to want to apply my skills in both of these hobbies to put my patients at ease and bring joy to an otherwise stressful situation.

Everyone needs a hero. You are mine.


Randy Davidson

Back to My Favorite Teacher Contest