LifeChanger of the Year Nominee Profile

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Darrell Sandrue

Position: English Language Arts Teacher, Grades 6-8
School: Netcong School
School District: Netcong School
City, State: Netcong, NJ

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Darrell Sandrue was nominated by an anonymous student.

"'Pretend you're normal.' 'I'm doing better than good!' 'I want to be you when I grow up.' These are a few of the many things that Mr. Sandrue has spontaneously blurted out during class," said the nominator. "Throughout my three years with him as my teacher in middle school, I never had a dull moment in his class. His jokes and lighthearted personality went hand-in-hand with giving us a rich educational experience. He made the classroom fun while teaching us at the same time. I firmly believe that if Mr. Sandrue's class were not as enjoyable, I would not have learned as much as I did from him. He has a vibrant personality and a visible passion for what he does. It is clear to see that he loves what he does."

"His assignments were fulfilling and beneficial while still being fun to complete. He picked great reads and recounted his experiences with those books while progressing through the lessons. For example, he retold a vivid experience as a child while reading the novel Call of the Wild by Jack London. It was apparent by his retelling that he enjoyed the novel. Similarly, he wanted us to enjoy it."

When his students read The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton, Mr. Sandrue gave them an assignment regarding the connection between the novel and the song "Twin Brother" by X and the Knitters. He gave his students the lyrics and tasked them with writing two different characters in two separate genres. The assignment caught the eye of John Doe, a famous songwriter and member of X and the Knitters. After his students finished, Mr. Sandrue visited John's book signing in Ridgewood, New Jersey, and brought the work from his students. John seemed thrilled to converse with Mr. Sandrue about the task given to his students. John even signed the schoolwork of a seventh-grade student, Tara Charette. 

"His positive attitude made the classroom atmosphere more positive," said the nominator. "Middle school was a rough time for me -- I had a lot of stress and anxiety. Visiting Mr. Sandrue's class allowed me to take a break from all my problems and have a great time learning in his class. I was not the biggest fan of English, as I had never been the best writer. Yet, seeing Mr. Sandrue every day for three years while sitting in his classroom, I discovered various new writing techniques. He helped me enrich my writing and was supportive the whole way. 

"I'm not the only one who believes Mr. Sandrue is a phenomenal educator. Netcong School deemed Mr. Sandrue 'Teacher of the Year' in 2014 for his progression to web-based classroom learning. Furthermore, his fellow educators believe that Mr. Sandrue is 'a model for all the other teachers...What he has done is really set the standard for how other teachers (in the s?chool) teach.' His fellow educators boasted that they are 'so lucky to have him at Netcong. We hit the lottery.'"

"There is no doubt that Mr. Sandrue has a massive impact on those around him - educators and students alike. There is no one else I would consider for this award. For certain, no one is more deserving of this award than Mr. Sandrue," said the nominator.