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‘The Teacher Who Changed My Life’

4teacher-600Maybe it was the teacher who taught you perseverance by encouraging you to cite the reasons for the "Battle of 1812" even though you were recovering from losing your two front teeth in a pre-season football scrimmage.

Or maybe it was the teacher who helped you make the transition from an inner city school with all African-American students to one where you could count the African Americans on two hands.

Teachers continue to change lives and those who do are worthy of recognition. The New Tri-State Defender is partnering with New America Media (NAM) and other media partners in Memphis to organize an essay contest on teachers for just that purpose.

We invite you to write a short essay (500 words maximum) describing the teacher who changed your life or the life of your child. Who is this remarkable person? Did this person mentor you, open your mind to a subject that became your passion, help you in a personal crisis?

The deadline is Feb. 11, 2013. Mail-in entries must be postmarked by then, and all entries are subject to the contest's Official Rules. (View the Official Rules here.)

Eligible contestants

All contestants must reside in the city of Memphis or Shelby County. You can only enter one of the following categories:

Teenagers between 14 to 18 years old;

Write about a teacher, who is not your relative, who teaches in a public or private school in the city of Memphis or Shelby County.

Adults 19 years of age and older;

Write about a teacher, who is not your relative, who teaches in a public or private school in the city of Memphis or Shelby County who have changed your life or the life of your child.

Teachers in Memory

Write about a teacher, who is not your relative, who might have passed away or whom lost contact with, or a teacher who taught you in your home country.

Essay format

Essay writers are invited to write up to 500 words in English or in the writer's native language. In-language submissions will be translated prior to final judging. Essays should be sent via email or regular mail, along with the entry form.

Judges and selection criteria

Distinguished educators, journalists, scholars and advocates will select a winner from each category. Judges will look for evidence that the teacher opened up a new pathway of knowledge or opportunity for the student that he or she had previously not been aware of, or that the teacher inspired or fostered a love of learning.

We are looking for real life examples and expect the entries will help us expand our definition of what a "great teacher" is.


Winners in the "Teenager" and "Adult" categories will each receive a cash award of $500 and the teachers profiled will also receive an award of $500. The winner in the "Teacher In Memory" category will have the honor of picking a local public school to donate a $500 check made by NAM.

Award Presentation

The New Tri-State Defender will host a special presentation of the awards during an Education Empowerment Expo in March. Winning essays will be published by TSD, NAM and other media outlets.


Download an entry form here and view official rules here.

Email your essay, along with the entry form, to:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Or, mail your essay, along with the entry form to:

The Teacher Who Changed My Life

The New Tri-State Defender

203 Beale St.; Ste. 200

Memphis, Tn. 38103


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