Nomination for Crystal Apple Award

This letter was written by one of Marj’s students, Jaci Kent (8th grade at the time) and signed by over 100 seventh and eighth grade students nominating her for the Crystal Apple Award for teaching.

April 16, 2003

Dear NBC 15,

We want to nominate Mrs. Marjorie Passman for the Crystal Apple. For 25 years Mrs. Passman has been a wonderful teacher and friend to students in the Madison Metropolitan School District. She is retiring at the end of this year and will be greatly missed. She has taught students a lot more than just English and Social Studies at Cherokee Middle School. She has always strived for equality in the classroom and truly is a fair teacher.

She’s the only teacher I’ve never known to put her home phone number on the board, and say “call me if you need help.” When something goes wrong (in life or class,) Mrs. Passman is there to help you. You can talk to her about anything, and she can help with just about anything. If you need help with homework, she’s there. If you are mad at your family, she’s there. When you just want to scream and shout like a raving lunatic because life is driving you crazy, she’s there.

Last year we studied subjects, such as culture, which helped us realize why we are so different and the things we do and why we do them. We learned that even though one culture looks weird to you, you may look weird to them. In the Social Justice unit we studied the many prejudices, and why people are so hateful. We learned how to find the good things in people and to get past stereotypes and prejudices. She always says “I’ve never lost my temper, unless someone is discriminating or harassing someone else,” and it’s true. She wants us all to be good, kind human beings who are open to new things, and new ideas, she has definitely taught us that. In Social Justice we just didn’t do the typical, “you watch a video, and then talk about how people are mean” thing. She actually brought it TO us, she had homosexuals come to the class and give their stories, of discrimination. She had an former autistic student come in and read a letter he wrote about why he his autism and how people have treated him. She took us to anti-semitism and the Ku Klutz Klan web sites, to show us how much hate there is. She taught us that even though we think of those ideas as old fashioned, they aren’t. People still feel that way, it was amazing to think that there were actually people in the U.S that were for the Holocaust. She also taught us how a lot of those ideas of people came to be, and how we could help prevent from spreading hate to future generations. We did skits to show the different prejudices, and to show how to handle them. We made Social Justice posters to hang around the school. We learned being different is GREAT, and its the only thing that makes life interesting. Her class was all around exciting, and fun. She told us a story about once of a team meetings where they discussed tardiness and how it was beginning to be out of control. She was wondering why we were never tardy to her class. She asked us if we were tardy to our other classes, and we answered yes. Then she asked us why we were never late to HER class, someone answered “because no one wants to miss a minute of your class,” and everyone agreed. She loves all her students, and makes sure that we know how much she cares for us. You never had to worry about getting bad grades in her class. If your grades were slipping she would take you aside and talk to you and ask why you were not doing so well. She would then think of a way to help you through it, and get your grades back up. She didn’t only do this for her class, but for other classes too. If you didn’t look like you were having a good day, she would try to help make you feel better.

When we left her class at the end of seventh grade, she wasn’t done with us yet. She will still come to us if she finds out that something is wrong, and helps us through it. We go and eat lunch in her class nearly everyday, where she freely gives up her planning time to spend time with us and help us through our problems. Even people who had never been in her class still come to her for her guidance, jokes and a fun, warm atmosphere. Her desk becomes a lively place of eating, laughing, joking, and receiving guidance from her. If you have a paper due in 15 minutes, and your still on your rough draft, Mrs. Passman will come sit next to you at the computer and help you through it. Then edit it when you’re finished. If you have a test or quiz, Mrs. Passman will help you study. If she knows that something is going wrong in your life, or she can tell that you’re feeling down, she will come and help you through it. This year people who wanted to perform at our international fair needed to have a “teacher sponsor” (someone to make sure they practiced, and were ready enough to perform) Mrs. Passman sponsored many eighth grade students. She wants us to help us accomplish our goals, and do what we want to do. If she knows there is something you would like to accomplish, she tries to do everything possible to help you reach it. When she comes into the eight grade hallway, you can tell she’s there because there is a crowd around her going “Mrs. Passman, Mrs. Passman, Mrs. Passman.” With people saying things like “I hate my mom! Let me tell you how unfair she is!” or “Can I come talk to you today after school?” or “I got an A on my history test! Thanks for helping me!” or “I got a 100% on my math test!”

She has already been recognized as an amazing teacher, she won the Distinguished Honor Award given by the MMSD, but we want her to have at least one more award before she retires. Mrs. Passman has always wanted the best for us, and she has certainly showed that. She always says that the best way to get respect from a human being, is to give respect. Mrs. Passman treats us with respect everyday, and is never unjust, she treats all students equally. She not only teaches Social Studies and Language Arts (English) she teaches understanding of others, respect, and love. She has given us so much, and we want to let her know how much she really means to us.

Thank you for your time. Signatures are attached on next page.

This letter was written by one of Marj’s students, Jaci Kent (8th grade at the time) and signed by over 100 seventh and eighth grade students nominating her for the Crystal Apple Award for teaching.