Andy Mizell was nominated by his former student, Mariam Kalds.
Mr. Mizell is an amazing educator to everyone who passes through his classroom. When Kalds was a student at Margaret Allen Middle School, she had Mr. Mizell as her English teacher.
"He has been an amazing help, not only to me, but to every student who has experienced having him," Kalds said. "He always cared about students as individuals, instead of how good their test scores were."
Kalds recalls a specific assignment where they had to write about their positive and negative qualities.
"As I was brainstorming, I burst into tears," Kalds said. "I went home, as it was the last block of the school day. The following day, Mr. Mizell came into my first block and asked my teacher if he could take a moment to speak with me. So, he did, and I revealed to him my life experiences that affected me so much to the point that I broke down in the middle of my English class."
Since then, Mr. Mizell has become Kalds's personal listener. Whenever she felt down, he was always there to comfort her. He is an educator who leaves his door open and encourages students to talk to him about anything.
"I watched as many students shared their difficulties with him, and he listened patiently," Kalds said. "One of the challenges he prepared me to face was passing my ESL exam. He supported me, believed in me and taught me to believe in myself. He also helped me improve my academic knowledge in order to pass this exam through the classroom work."
During the course of that school year, Mr. Mizell exposed Kalds and her classmates to other individuals who have had struggles in their lives and learned to get past them.
"When we were learning about poems and songs, Mr. Mizell included the song, 'I Lived' by OneRepublic, which was dedicated to a teen suffering from cystic fibrosis who made the best out of his life," Kalds said.
Throughout the year, Mr. Mizell also had his class learn about the Holocaust and its survivors. After reading books about the Holocaust, some students were chosen to attend a speech given by a survivor. They were also given the opportunity to ask them questions. Mr. Mizell has also built the Eva Kors Fountain of Forgiveness, which was created after the passing of one of his former students. This experience pushed him to get more creative with his teaching methods and encourage students to learn from their experiences. Mr. Mizell and his students helped in the construction of the Fountain of Forgiveness and performed other projects as well.
"The hardship of losing one of his students had a great impact on him, but it also encouraged him to pursue his goal of helping other students," Kalds said. "This goal was the reason he wanted to become a teacher in the first place, after his trip to Ghana after graduating with an art major!"
Mr. Mizell also started the "Give a Hoot, Donate Fruit" movement, where students donated food to homeless shelters, instead of throwing it away. They also spent the day in the shelter serving meals to those in need.
"Mr. Mizell's help lasted long after I had him as a student. It gave purpose to my life again and made me appreciate what I have," Kalds said. "When I didn't have any hope, Mr. Mizell came along and renewed it. Out of the six schools I went to, the 240 teachers I saw, and the 60 I dealt closely with, I have not seen any teacher who truly loves his students and his job as much as Mr. Mizell does."