Last June, students in Melissa Rudder’s English classes submitted a video entry to the College Board’s AP Teacher Appreciation Contest expressing their praise and admiration for the veteran teacher.
The national contest invited high school students to post a video on Instagram telling them about an AP teacher at their school who deserved to be recognized for his or her greatness.
Angelina Herrera ’19, a junior at the time, knew instantly that Rudder, her AP Language and Composition teacher, had to be nominated. “She has always been a positive, engaging, and caring presence, not only for me, but for every student she encounters,” says Herrera. “All her students love her, and we all agreed she deserves to be recognized.”
Herrera gathered her classmates and compiled a video of them thanking Rudder and offering reasons why she should win the College Board’s contest. Herrera also recruited underclassman Lauren Delany, class of 2021, a freshman in Rudder’s Honors English 1 class at the time, to edit the video and help finalize it for submission. Herrera then posted the video on her own Instagram account, with the hashtag #APTeacherAppreciation.
A panel of judges from the College Board reviewed the video submissions, scoring them on creativity, engagement and authenticity. Fifty teachers from across the United States, including Rudder, were awarded the top prize — $250 for classroom supplies and improvement.
Rudder, who was overwhelmed by the student project, says that she “cried when [she] saw the video… Bishop Montgomery students always make me feel appreciated.” And she’s already made plans for her prize money: “I'm planning on using the money to get a bar-height table and set of stools so that I have a new optional space for students to stand and work or to collaborate.”
Rudder, a Bishop alumna, is beginning her 13th year at Bishop Montgomery, her first teaching job since graduating from Loyola Marymount University in 2005. During her tenure at BMHS, she has taught all grade levels of English, primarily honors and AP English classes, and currently teaches AP Language and Composition and AP Literature and Composition. She is also the English Department chairperson and moderator of the school’s improv team, ComedySportz.
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