From the front page of the Daily Independent: Scholarship winner plans a clear path -- and a good one

  • Mike James The Daily Independent

A kid coming home and playing teacher to imaginary students, taking attendance, assigning lessons, grading papers — it was a strangely familiar story.

In fact, I'd heard it, or one similar to it, just a couple of weeks earlier, in an interview with a teacher who had won a prestigious education award.

I'd heard it a few years back when interviewing another teacher tapped for a top state education honor.

Both traced their education career aspirations to a childhood in which their own teachers were role models for role playing, and their playthings were pencils and notebooks and blackboards and chalk.

And now, here was Abbi Borders, an actual kid, a sixth-grader at Boyd County Middle School to be precise, telling me she'd known she would be a teacher since kindergarten, when she would set up her marker board, take out the genuine attendance book given to her by her teacher aunt, and pretend to give lessons.

And I believed her.

Our conversation came about because Abbi won a scholarship for an essay she wrote on her views of teachers and their role in the world. Considering the essay's title is "Changing the World," Abbi clearly believes teachers rank somewhere up there with popes and presidents.

"Teachers change the world every day, and I'm going to make a change by teaching students to make a difference," Abbi wrote. There's more, but you get the picture. There's more to the profession than passing on knowledge of reading and science and math.

What you learn is only as valuable as what you do with it. A cliche, perhaps, but only because it is perennially true.

It probably is true of your job too; I know it is true of mine: In the newspaper business we don’t just compile and print information, we work to make our product pertinent and valuable to the community.

Teachers, I have found over two decades of covering schools, are not content with drilling children in math problems and reading exercises. Rather, they see children as future citizens and teaching as a means of nurturing thoughtful and responsible citizenship.

It is almost impossible to talk for more than two minutes to a teacher these days without hearing the phrases “problem solving” and “critical thinking” applied to their daily lessons.

There’s another word, “character,”one hears a lot in schools these days. I recall walking out of a local elementary school several years ago and, in passing, seeing the principal sitting in the warm spring sunshine with a bevy of sixth-graders in an end-of-school discussion about growing up and taking on the challenges of middle school and high school.

It struck me then that his words could have a fundamental impact not just on the children but their families, their future children and the city they lived in. And that means you and me, too.

So it is true, as Abbi Borders wrote, that teachers change the world. But that also can be true of parents and newspaper reporters and convenience store clerks and accountants and nurses and auto mechanics.

As Abbi Borders wrote, “Now that I told you how I’m going to change the world, it’s your turn to decide whether or not you want to join me because I can’t do it alone.”

For more on this story and for pictures of Abbi Borders, please visit

Mike James is the education news writer for the Daily Independent. Contact him at



Abbi Borders, center, poses with the $500 check awarded to BCMS. Kimberly Fitch, Principal of BCMS, is on the left and Mr. David Lawhorn from KHEAA is on the right.


Abbi Borders, center, poses with the $500 check awarded to BCMS. Kimberly Fitch, Principal of BCMS, is on the left and Mr. David Lawhorn from KHEAA is on the right. Abbi was awarded $1,000 for her winning essay in the Kentucky Saves Dream Out Loud Challenge.


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