Since 2017, Charter School Capital has held an annual essay contest celebrating exceptional teachers. We call it the Dewey Awards, in celebration of Mr. Richard Dewey – a teacher who provided exceptional mentorship to Stuart Ellis, our founder and CEO. Every year we get a brilliant selection of stories written by students from charter schools all over the nation. This year’s winners are featured here. But each of these stories is worth sharing.

This week we bring you a story written by Kristina Buchholz, about Kelly Stropp Lamerson, of South Tech Academy.

You know that saying “people come into our lives for a season.” Well… Here is the story of the teacher/guidance counselor that I truly believe God put in my life as my Angel here on earth; her name is Kelly Stropp Lamerson.

As an individual growing up battling severe medical issues myself knowing just how precious life is and learning to appreciate each and every day as it’s given to us and to not live life in fear, I have learned to live my life that way the best I can. However, growing up in private schools my entire life where everyone knows each other, and my world being turned upside down junior year which led me to walk into my senior year having transferred schools to a public school yeah, I was fearful. Not knowing a single soul and going into the unknown of a senior year wasn’t what I planned.

Day one of school and Kelly walked into my life. Her genuine smile, compassion, and heart for teaching and students is the reason why I continued going to school every day because I knew things would get better. Kelly took me under her wing and guided me through my senior year. Not many teachers would take the time to go the extra mile to make sure students are taken care of let alone give them the feeling like we are human beings and that we do matter and we do belong. I looked forward to school because I knew I would be greeted with a smile and I knew someone. Eventually, I grew to know more people but, Kelly was still there whenever I needed her. I am honestly horrible at math and she took the time to help me strengthen my math skills and believe me I’m pretty sure she’s the most patent person I have ever met. She continues to inspire me and impact my life over a decade later and that’s how you know this teacher/guidance counselor impacted my life and is a good soul!

Watching her strive to not just make her classroom a better place but, striving to make the world a better place inspires me to do the same thing, and wanting to make sure people feel like they belong which is what Kelly does! Her genuine heart for others is one of a kind and we truly need more people like her in this world. I was a Majorette at the college I attended, and she came and supported me and watched me perform during pre-game and halftime.

During this pandemic, Kelly wasn’t sitting still. She was thinking of ways to help keep her high schoolers safe when they return back to school for in-person learning. So she started a donors choose and told her story and started to raise funds for freestanding sanitation stations so the kids would feel safe while returning back to school. I don’t think I could find just the right amount of words to express how proud I am of Kelly.

She is always going out of her way and striving to make a difference in the world around her which makes her a light, and she makes learning inviting and belonging for all students. Kelly thank you for taking me under your wing, thank you for impacting my life and making a difference in my life. Thank you for always striving to make this world and the teacher world a better place, you are one of a kind and I hope you never forget the impact you leave!

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Since the company’s inception in 2006, Charter School Capital has been committed to the success of charter schools. We help schools access, leverage, and sustain the resources charter schools need to thrive, allowing them to focus on what matters most – educating students. Our depth of experience working with charter school leaders and our knowledge of how to address charter school financial and operational needs have allowed us to provide over $1.8 billion in support of 600 charter schools that have educated over 1,027,000 students across the country. For more information on how we can support your charter school, contact us. We’d love to work with you!

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