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Dobbs Ferry Student Wins “My Favorite Teacher” Contest

Dobbs Ferry Middle School seventh grader Sara FitzPatrick, right, and her "Favorite Teacher" Rachel Lief.
Dobbs Ferry Middle School seventh grader Sara FitzPatrick, right, and her "Favorite Teacher" Rachel Lief. Photo Credit: Dobbs Ferry Schools

DOBB FERRY, N.Y. - Sara FitzPatrick has a favorite teacher at the Dobbs Ferry Middle School and now everyone knows it.

The seventh grader won the Barnes & Noble "My Favorite Teacher" essay contest last week. FitzPatrick and her favorite teacher, Rachel Lief, were honored Thursday at the Barnes & Noble store in Yonkers.

“I wanted to get some recognition for Ms. Lief because she is a smart, fun, outgoing and overall amazing teacher,” FitzPatrick said. “Ms. Lief does everything she can to teach us to surpass  expectations so we can better help ourselves for the future. She wants to see her students excel."

FitzPatrick said Lief exemplifies a teacher who really loves her work.

"There is a fine line between good and great teachers and you know when a teacher is just going through the motions," FitzPatrick said. "Ms. Lief is all about her students and encouraging them to do their best work. I always liked English, but she made me love it even more. Ms. Lief changes it up each day so the class is fun and exhilarating, which makes you sit up and pay attention. I see her as a friend, but most importantly, as an effective teacher.” Kelly Schulze, the Barnes & Noble store's community relations manager, said the store received approximately 30 entries in the essay contest from school districts across the county including Pelham, Bronxville, Mount Vernon, Edgemont, Scarsdale and Yonkers. She was one of the contest judges, along with the children’s lead bookseller and the assistant store manager. Each judge read the essays separately, but all of them agreed on the winning submission.

“This is my second ‘Favorite Teacher Contest’ and probably my favorite day of work,” Schulze said. “Sara’s essay was written clearly and sincerely and her admiration for Ms. Lief was apparent in almost every word. Ms. Lief has definitely left a lasting impression on this young student."

Middle School Principal Patrick Mussolini attended the awards ceremony. “I am very proud of Sara for not only making it this far in the competition, but for taking the time to participate in this event above and beyond her regular academic studies," Mussolini said. "And I am equally proud to work with a teacher like Rachael Lief, who has such a positive impact on her students.”

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