PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Teachers are center stage in the debates these days about what increases student performance. The Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation is focusing on teacher competence and how it relates to academic success.

Each May for the past eleven years, the Phillies and Philadelphia Inquirer News in Education sponsor a contest for Teacher Appreciation Month inviting letters describing best teachers. Hundreds of submissions come in and I’m one of the team who helps decide on the winners.

There are many different opinions among the judges; but to me, the best are the people who write in as adults claiming that teachers made them realize that some day they could be writers or teachers.

Everyone remembers a favorite teacher. For me it was Ms. Grogan in junior high school. Why does Ms. Grogan live in my memory? Because every time I go to France and order food in what I consider perfect pronunciation, I see her shaking her head with a smile, telling me to try harder, and I do.

Reported By Dr. Marciene Mattleman, KYW Newsradio

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