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Essay Contest Results (7th Annual, 2012)

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." -Eleanor Roosevelt

Thank you to all the teachers and students who participated in our NYS TESOL Annual Essay Contest! We received a wonderful collection of essays from students across the state! Below is an accounting of the number of submissions we received in each category.

We at NYS TESOL would like to recognize all the teachers who participated and all the schools they represent by listing them here. Your dedication to your students is evident to us and we applaud the efforts of your students. You are all winners to us!


Bettina Bergmann, New York Mills Jr./Sr. High School, New York Mills, NY

Mandy Black, Binghamton High School, Binghamton, NY

Elizabeth Brozek, South Woods Middle School, Syosset, NY

Linda Ciano, New York University-American Language Institute, New York, NY

Lori Clark, All Saints Academy, Corning, NY,
East High School, Corning, NY

West High School, Painted Post, NY

Deauville Gardens Elementary School, Copiague, NY

Denton Ave. School, New Hyde Park, NY

Teresa Devore, Lower East Side Prep High School, New York, NY

Eastchester Middle School, Eastchester, NY

Fredonia Elementary School, Fredonia, NY

Briana Fazio, Finley Middle School, Glen Cove, NY

Judith Falci, College of Staten Island, Staten Island, NY

Susan Goldstein, Paul D. Schreiber High School, Port Washington, NY

Carol Green, Jefferson Elementary School, Schenectady, NY

Schalmont High School, Schenectady, NY

Heatly High School, Green Island, NY

Jennifer Heise, Ithaca High School, Ithaca, NY

Patricia Kapps, Watson Williams Elementary, Utica, NY

Miss Lockett, Hughes School, Syracuse, NY
Mrs. MacNay, Indian River High School, Philadelphia, NY

Peter Lindo, Bell Language School, NY

Mark Mehler, Queens Central Library Adult Learning Center, Jamaica, NY

Kathleen Richardson, Smithtown Central School District, Smithtown, NY

Melvin Marcus, Spanish American Institute, Manhattan, NY

Elizabeth Schade, College of Staten Island, Staten Island, NY

Mrs. Slobodskoy, Willets Road Middle School, East Williston, NY

Mrs. Saliani, William Floyd Elementary School, Shirley, NY

Michele Thomas, IELI Institute at Hunter College, New York, NY

Stacey Wavra, Benjamin Franklin Elementary, Binghamton, NY

Cara Tuzzolino Werben, Nassau Community College, Garden City, NY

Jennifer Wheeler, Brighton High School, Rochester, NY


Grades 4-8

Yolanda Sáenz, Grade 6 
Willets Road Middle School, East Williston
UFSD Teacher: Mrs. Slobodskoy

Dreams are beautiful especially when they come true. When I was in El Salvador I always wanted to come to America to learn English and to follow my dreams. When I moved to America, I was content because it was a good opportunity to have a better education. I remember the first day of school and right away it was terrible. I couldn’t communicate with the other kids and I was uncomfortable.

It was then I found my dream. When I grow up I want to create a program for foreign children and adults who come to America without knowing English. The program will help them learn English and get settled in this country. The price would be affordable. The money would go to charity. So, I would be doing two good things at once. I want to help charities also because I always get nice things and it makes me feel sad that many others don’t receive presents for birthdays or holidays. My grandmother never got presents, and that’s another big reason why I want to help others. I rather not get anything so others can. Just to see them happy, I will be happy as well. Nothing is impossible in this huge world and nothing can stop me from reaching my goal of helping people who struggle with English. I want a better future for them so they can see the other great and beautiful side of the world. Sometimes your dreams can help others reach their dreams. 


Irma Morales, Grade 8, Finley Middle School
Teacher: Briana Fazio


My dreams are at the end of my path. I will have to work hard to go far.

My dream for my future is to become a veterinarian. I would love to accomplish this dream because I want to help animals and give advice to pet owners. I’ve done things to bring me closer to my dream. I have worked hard in school and am getting good grades. I have also watched animal shows and asked questions about being a veterinarian. I would like to start helping animals that I know or volunteer at an animal shelter.

Most teenagers have people they look to for inspiration. For me, that person is my mother, Patricia Morales. She is the single most hard-working women I have known in my life. Even though she has been through a lot, she has stayed strong. My mom has made me strong because of all the solid work she has done to take care of me and my sisters. Seeing all the things she does to be there for us is amazing. There is nothing she can’t do and I hope I can be as strong of a person as her. Watching her has taught me a lot about the importance of work ethnic. I know I will work as hard as her when I become a veterinarian.

This dream has been in my heart for a very long time. The path is not easy, but I know I am going to navigate it with pride.

Grades 9-12

Alexander Huang, Grade 9, Brighton High School
Teacher: Jennifer Wheeler


I always dream of being a great cook. The reason I want to be a great cook is because when I was little an accident happened. I got sick by eating kiwi, and it actually happened a lot because of my weak body. What made this time special is the medicine cured me, and that medicine was a soup my childhood friend, Alice, made. She is an amazing girl. She started cooking when she was seven and it was so delicious. From that day on, cooking became my dream. I want to cook foods that would make a weak body become strong, and I want to make people feel how I feel.

I have learned many cooking techniques from Alice over the years. There have been times when I was lost and stopped cooking; all I wanted to do was be alone, but Alice would cry and get angry at me and that would cheer me up. But a terrible thing happened one day: Alice collapsed. We found that she had a deadly disease. A week after the doctor told us, even my cooking couldn't cure her. 

At first I wanted to give up, because Alice's death made it hard and because I couldn't save her. Then I started to work harder. Now, my dream has changed a little bit. I want to cook something not only that would strengthen your body, but also your soul. I also want to be someone's hope, like Alice, who always cheered me on.

Johjunesee Na, Grade 12, Ithaca High School
Teacher: Jennifer Heise


In life people reach their dreams through hard work and the future only belongs to those who believe in their dreams. My name is Johjunesee Na and my dream is to become a nurse then a doctor. I really believe I will fulfill my dream one day. There are many factors that help me to believe my dreams. They are the experiences that I faced in the Thailand Refugee Camps. Over ten years, I grew up in refugee camps where I first decided to become a doctor to help people and I started taking things seriously. There is an experience which helped me to have the desire to help people. That time I think I was about ten years old. I was sitting and saw a very old woman. She tried to walk without shoes and sell her things on a very hot summer day. She didn’t look healthy. By seeing her made me cry and gave me the desire to help people. Another factor that helped me to believe and fulfill my dream is world suffering. I want to help people around the world who are suffering. Their voices and my voice helped me toward my dream. I listen to their voices to keep continuing to reach my dream and I encourage myself with my voice. I came to America three years ago speaking no English. I tried my best to reach my dream. I had to learn everything from the beginning to fit into this American society to fulfill my dream. I had to learn the culture, the language, how to communicate and a new educational system. It was very hard for me and I was down a lot. But I didn’t give up. I encouraged myself by knowing that other people could do it so I could do it! Now I have been in American for three years and I am very comfortable in this American society even though I am not like a real American yet. I am still learning. I am now in high school and I try very hard to understand things and keep my grades up. Recently I was accepted to attend the New Vision Health Science Program for my senior year which I believe is a step to reach my dream. I am very happy about being accepted by this program and it helps me even more to keep continuing with my education. Now I am on the pathway toward my educational dream but in the future I will be on a pathway toward my dream of helping people.


University & Adult

Ronald Germain, Queens Central Library Adult Learning Center
Writing Instructor: Mark Mehler 

I was born in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world, and I grew up in a ghetto. Since the age of 12, I have dreamed of becoming a doctor. I was often sick as a little boy, but I rarely got to see a doctor, because my family couldn't afford it. All around me, however, I saw kids even sicker than me, dying from simple diseases like influenza. The world looked like one big tragedy and I wanted to cure it.

The dream of being a doctor continued through high school. But because my parents were poor, I couldn't pay for a private university and I was not lucky enough to win admission to the state university of medicine, which accepted only 120 out of 6,000 applicants. My dream remained alive, but just barely.

However, when I came to the U.S. last year and saw all the opportunities here, I really began to believe my dream of being a doctor could come true. I've been studying English in a number of different programs and expect to start college this fall. Step by step, I feel like I'm moving slowly, but surely, toward my goal.

I know how easily dreams can be crushed, even here, and that becoming a doctor demands great sacrifice.
But I stay focused on the beauty of my dream, for without it, I would feel empty.


Name: Eunyun An, Nassau Community College, 
Instructor: Cara Tuzzolino Werben


We are asked a lot what our dream is in entire life. Although dream does not always mean occupation like doctor and lawyer, almost all people answer what they want to be in the future by this question. Not knowing why we live, it is considered common for us to have certain jobs. However, I have another dream, not occupation; I want to speak English fluently. It’s not because I want to live here, U.S.A or I like this country. Let me talk about the reasons why I have a dream like this.

Since childhood, I have thought a little bit differently from others. I was always curious about why people live and eventually die. In addition, I want to know there is true love, which is eternal, not changed. I had many questions about human being and felt frustrated by finite of human life span. When I was high school student, I always thought how to live. The teacher, friends, parents and any other people surrounding me usually told me that having good husband, making good relationship, living rich is factors of living well, but I could not feel sympathy from these. To solve this question, which is why I live and how to live my extra time, I read many kinds of books and did meditated. After I did these several things, I wanted to be worthwhile in my life and decided to learn English, which is the most frequently used worldwide. 

It sounds very weird that my dream is speaking English fluently. I study English neither to get a good job nor to live in U.S.A. Of course, I will have a job and live with my nice family in the future, but these are not my dreams. There are some people who help poor people or do other meaningful things by using worldwide used languages. I want to be person like them. It is true that English is the most frequently used language, so I continue to learn and will continue to make dreams come true.