Sabrina Martinez
Category: 2021 College Winner

Sabrina Martinez

Mrs. Phanord was the first person to ever support me in my love of literature and writing. Before I entered her 9th grade English class, I struggled with writing due to harsh teachers that provided little feedback for their Cs or overly nice teachers that gave me top marks with no feedback. I didn’t know whether my writing was genuinely good because of the vast reactions I would get. With Mrs. Phanord, I remember being confused when we got our summer essays back; there were so many comments throughout. She highlighted on what I did well and left notes on how to improve my analysis. After two years of stagnant writing, I was finally developing and improving in something I loved.

She also showed me what a truly inviting environment looks like. She made her classroom fun to be in and her energy lit up the classroom every day. She would sway in with her box braids that left me in awe as she began an elaborate lecture of Romeo and Juliet. As I was in the advanced class, many of my classmates either enjoyed or were at least skilled in English. But this sentiment of inviting, lively lectures, was prominent across all of her classes, even those in intensive classes loved having her because, not only did she make the texts we were analyzing understandable, she made them fun for everyone.

Most importantly, she indulged my passions. I remembered her talking about being a stickler for grammar once so, when I saw a glaring typo in a book I had recently bought, I showed it to her after class in frustration. At the ripe age of fifteen, she told me I would be an amazing editor. I did not know what I wanted to do in my future at the time, so I dismissed this, until two years later.

She remembered our conversation even in my junior year and she ran up to me on the first day, by chance as I did not have her as a teacher that year, and she stated: “College Essay Incubator. You need to join it. It will be great for applications and you will enjoy it.” I didn’t know what she meant at the time, but I listened. I sought out the teacher she referred me to and asked about the incubator. This program was a once-weekly event in which students could bring in their college essays to be peer tutored. I instantly fell in love with the program and devoted my full attention to it every week. By the end of the year, I had accumulated the most hours even done in a single year in the program and was actively considering editing as a career.

I will always be grateful to her for her dedication to her students, because I do not believe I would have ever joined the program that became my home. She helped me find my home and my confidence in editing and writing.