FHC Publications Adviser Matthew Schott Wins Inspirational Teacher Award

Posted on 04/08/2019
Matthew Schott Wins Inspirational Teacher Award

Throughout a child’s life, many notable figures can be found that impact the adults they become. Parents, family, and friends often come to mind. But for those who had a challenging childhood or didn’t experience a strong family bond, teachers can play an influential role. For Lindsay Schallon, a former Francis Howell Central student, publications adviser Matthew Schott was just that.

After being nominated by Schallon, Schott is a 2019 recipient of the Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award. This award recognizes individuals who have had a major impact on the lives of their students, outside of typical academia. According to The Kennedy Center’s website, “The Awards celebrate the teaching profession, the important role of teachers in society, and seek to inspire others to purse this noble profession.”

The award is titled after Stephen Sondheim, a decorated lyricist, who cites Oscar Hammerstein (of the infamous Rodgers and Hammerstein) for his success. Winners are nominated by former students and are awarded $10,000 in appreciation for their contributions to the field of teaching. Nominees are also posted on the Kennedy Center’s website.

In her nomination story, Schallon shares about needing a safe place to hide out and take a much needed nap after spending the evening prior fighting with a parent and studying for a test. Schott’s journalism classroom ended up being a safe haven for her. “In a world where it felt like no matter how hard I tried, I was never good enough, Mr. Schott’s empathy was transformative,” said Schallon. “To him, I wasn’t the tardy kid - I was the kid working 40 hours a week after school because her home life was atrocious; the kid so hungry for independence she filled up her schedule with extracurricular activities.”

Since her time in the hallways of FHC, Schallon has attended journalism school and now works as a senior editor at Glamour Magazine. She cites Schott’s encouragement as her motivator and still manages to visit his classroom or Skype with his students from time to time. “He’s there for me when I need career advice or just to say he’s proud of a project I shared on Facebook,” said Schallon. Schott is happy to include her current works as examples in his classroom, and will frequently invite her to video conference and speak as a role model for student journalists.

“Reading Lindsay’s nomination essay, I vaguely remembered the incident she was speaking of, but it wasn’t forefront in my mind,” said Schott. “I think that’s illustrative of the fact while the curricular part of what we do is important, it is how we treat our students and the memories we make for them is what they truly take with them out into society and is what is most vital.” Proving that student connections need not only happen academically, but personally as well. The skills taught in Schott’s classroom are so much more than proper writing styles and visually appealing photographs; but grit, determination, responsibility, and working with others.

“The Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher Award wants to publicly recognize specific teachers by spotlighting their extraordinary impact on the lives of students and that is who Matt is,” said FHC Principal Dr. Sonny Arnel “He has an incredible passion for making education relevant and something students build upon to make their lives richer as a result.”

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