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The Suburbanite
  • Manchester student wins essay contest to honor teachers

  • Barnes and Noble executives probably didn’t expect to receive a winning essay from a student with dyslexia.


    Still, that‘s precisely what happened when Manchester High School freshman Lara Hailey Brown submitted her entry during a store-sponsored contest to honor local teachers.

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  • Barnes and Noble executives probably didn’t expect to receive a winning essay from a student with dyslexia.
    Still, that‘s precisely what happened when Manchester High School freshman Lara Hailey Brown submitted her entry during a store-sponsored contest to honor local teachers.
    The Montrose location of the bookstore chain chose Brown’s essay, written in honor of her eighth-grade teacher Rebecca Chesnick, out of 350 essays.
    Chesnick, an intervention specialist at the middle school, became acquainted with Brown during a language arts class last year. When Chesnick found out that Brown had entered her in the My Favorite Teacher Contest back in April, she was shocked.
    “I was really surprised,” Chesnick said. “I didn’t know that she had considered me her favorite teacher. After everything that we’ve been through, I was really excited.”
    For Brown, dyslexia has been a life-long struggle that often left her feeling alienated. Chesnick helped her cope with that.
    “Mrs. Chesnick was the most amazing teacher I have ever had,”  Brown said. “She never gave up on me, she was always there for me and most important, she never let up on me no matter what. She helped my self-confidence so much.”
    Brown said dyslexia had been a hindrance to both her education and social life.
    “Dyslexia was real difficult to get a hold on and it makes it difficult to read and little things that everyone takes for granted, like telling time,”  Brown said. “I had no confidence in myself at all. Kids at school called me mental  and still do this day. But I know all I have is a learning disability.”
    Now in her 18th year of teaching students with disabilities, Chesnick understood that Brown’s disability was just a hindrance to overcome.
    “She wasn’t really sure about me, but the more I pushed her and nudged her, she realized that that was what was good for her and she started to reap the benefits, like getting on the honor roll,” Chesnick said.
    Brown said Chesnick helped her to blend in, as a dyslexic student, and that was the most touching thing to her. Chesnick agreed that she puts an emphasis on letting students know that they are shouldn’t be alienated for their disabilities.
    “She didn’t feel like she was different than anyone else because of the way I treated her,”  Chesnick said.
    The contest invited students in grades one through 12 to submit an essay, poem or thank you letter to a teacher they adore. The winners were honored at a ceremony at the local store on April 21.
    Brown got the chance to read her essay at the ceremony, where she talked about her respect for Chesnick and her struggle with dyslexia. Chesnick was awarded a set of Sterling Classic books for her classroom. The store honored three teachers, one at the elementary, middle and high school level. Being a ninth-grader when she submitted the essay, Brown won the high school portion of the contest.
    Page 2 of 2 - Manchester Middle School Principal Jim Miller was pleased to hear that Chesnick had won.
    “I was very proud,”  Miller said. “She’s one of those teachers that goes above and beyond. She stays after school and tutors kids on her own time.”
    In fact, Chesnick and Brown have that in common. Both were relatively new to Manchester. Chesnick came to the area from a district in southern Ohio three years ago, while Brown transferred to Manchester after attending another local school.
    “My switch to Manchester was the best decision I have ever made,”  Brown said. “The teachers are more patient and everyone looks out for each other.”
    After graduation, Brown plans to pursue a degree in photography, and dreams of going to New York University. Ideally, she said she‘d like to get a scholarship in softball or cheerleading.
    “I’m glad I was able to make a difference in her life and I hope she continues on and achieves great things,” Chesnick said.