Northport High School senior Lauren Anselm recently submitted an essay on her fifth grade teacher, Daniel Fields, who was “”always full of energy” and never produced “a dull moment in his class,” for the seventh annual edition of the East Northport Barnes & Noble’s “My Favorite Teacher Contest.” Ofthe 33 submissions, Anselm’s essay was the winner.
Anselm, 18, of East Northport, said “there were so many laughs, so many new experiences” when she learned from Fields.
“He made learning fun and easy for me,” she added.
The 33 entrees in this year’s contest cited teachers from across Northport, East Northport, Kings Park, Elwood and Greenlawn. For the contest, middle and high school students submitted letters, essays and poems tell their communities how much they appreciate their teachers.
Anselm said she was shocked when she learned her submission won. And Fields was just as surprised as Anselm and members of Bellerose Avenue School kept a tight lip on the contest results.
“I had no idea it was coming so it was one of those moments where you’re shocked,” Fields, 41, of Queens, said. “It’s definitely nice to know that kids are still thinking about you even when they’re no longer in the school.”
For Fields, who’s been teaching at Bellerose for 18 years, teaching at an elementary level is significant because it gives him the opportunity to get kids to love to learn, he said.
“We have a big chance to really impact their future,” Fields added. “I always see it as a chance to really make them interested in the next step, to try to find something they’re going to really love and hopefully help them figure out what that is.”
Anselm, who plans to study film in college, said Fields was the person who helped guide her to where she is today.
“When I would come to school, I wouldn’t be myself and then I would go into his classroom and I would know that it was a non-judgmental zone,” she said. “It was a really great year, my favorite school year.”
Although he admits that he’s not the best artist, Fields said he enjoys incorporating the visual aspect to teaching.
“I want to make their experience a little more visual and something more meaningful, where they could put their own creative spin on it,” he added. “I try to do that as much as possible and when they’re working in groups, they’re bouncing ideas off each other. I’ve always made that part of the experience for them. I don’t want it to be just them with a notebook.”
Anselm said that Fields was the type of teacher who treated every student as individuals
She added, “He sincerely cared about what was happening in everyone’s life and even after I graduated he still kept in touch with me.”
First and foremost, the kids are what Fields loves about his job, he said.
“It doesn’t always feel like a job sometimes,” he said. “Even though it can be stressful, you have papers to grade and assignments to make up to build your curriculum, but at the same time when you step back and you watch it all unfold, it’s kind of a cool thing to see how much fun the kids are having and how much they can get out of it.”
Both Fields and Anselm will be recognized in April at an event held at Barnes & Noble (4000 Jericho Turnpike, East Northport).