Philadelphia teacher boosts achievement in students and self: ‘She believes in you’

After four years of teaching, Stephanie Hosansky felt prepared to tackle any challenges the new school year might bring. She had instilled harmony in difficult classroom environments, counseled concerned parents about their children's performance, and worked many late evenings creating lesson plans that would challenge and inspire her students.

As she entered her fifth year in education, she was confident and excited – especially since she would begin the year at a different school with a new group of eager, young students. However, after a few weeks at Hardy Williams Elementary in Southwest Philadelphia, for the first time in her career, Hosansky began to doubt her ability as a teacher.

Her students came from varied backgrounds, many from communities affected by violence and poverty. She quickly realized that these external factors, which were circumstances beyond her and her students' control, often impacted their ability to succeed in the classroom. Students had a hard time maintaining focus on their assignments, there were several incidents of bullying, and Hosansky sensed her new students were skeptical that she would stick around.


"My number one goal for coming here [to Hardy Williams] was to reach the students and help them become the best versions of themselves," Hosansky says. Although it was early in the year, she didn't feel like she was doing what she had come to do. At least not at first. "I had many moments where I wasn't sure that I was the right person for the job."

But she persevered. She was committed to bringing out the best in her students. The first months of the school year had taught her that each class is a unique environment.

"After winter break, I pretended it was the first day of school again," Hosansky says. She reviewed her expectations of the students' classroom behavior and made it clear she was taking these expectations seriously. "They saw that I wasn't playing around," Hosansky says. She also began checking in with her students every morning to ensure that she was helping them prepare for the day.

Her students saw their teacher overcoming her own challenges, which helped them believe they could do the same for themselves. She had created a model of personal success that the students could follow. For the first time, her kids were trying, even when things felt unbearably hard, both in the classroom and at home. By the end of the year, Hosansky's classroom was full of star students – many exceeding benchmark performance on their exams.

"Having 80 percent of my students grow academically was one of the most rewarding experiences I've had as a teacher," she says. But she'd gone above and beyond just helping her students ace reading, writing and math tests. They grew to trust her and rely on her to help them through their "bad days," as one student describes.

Hosansky never doubted their potential and always "showed up" no matter the challenge. In turn, her students wanted to show their gratitude and remind her of the impact she made on them. So they nominated her for the WE Teachers Award from Walgreens, which celebrates teachers who go above and beyond for their students.

The same kids who were unsure if they could trust Hosansky on the first day were now writing secret letters of support in hopes that she would win the award. "She will never give up on you," they wrote. "She will work with you to do better. She believes in you." These sentiments were echoed repeatedly by many of her students.

"Ms. Hosansky always has our backs," another chimed in. "She helps her students because she loves them like her own kids."

"She's more than a teacher. She's my best friend," another student added.

Today's teachers like Hosansky are more than educators; they are mentors, cheerleaders, and counselors, too. Yet at a time when more is expected, many teachers feel unprepared to address the critical social issues that are impacting their classrooms. That's why Walgreens has partnered with the ME to WE Foundation and Mental Health America to develop a new program, WE Teachers, which provides all teachers access to free tools and resources to address topics their students face, like youth violence or mental health and wellbeing. When you shop for back-to-school at Walgreens you join Walgreens efforts to support America's teachers. .

If you know a teacher who goes "above and beyond" like Stephanie Hosansky, you can nominate him or her for a WE Teachers Award; visit your local Walgreens store to learn how. A minimum of 500 recipients will receive a WE Teachers Award and each recipient will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card to purchase classroom supplies – an amount designed to help cover a year's worth of teacher out-of-pocket expenses for classroom supplies. Teachers can also apply directly. More information is available at Walgreens.com/metowe.

Check out the video below to see a special tribute from Hosanky's students, who share how she made a difference in their lives.

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On an old episode of "The Oprah Winfrey Show" in July 1992, Oprah put her audience through a social experiment that puts racism in a new light. Despite being nearly two decades old, it's as relevant today as ever.

She split the audience members into two groups based on their eye color. Those with brown eyes were given preferential treatment by getting to cut the line and given refreshments while they waited to be seated. Those with blue eyes were made to put on a green collar and wait in a crowd for two hours.

Staff were instructed to be extra polite to brown-eyed people and to discriminate against blue-eyed people. Her guest for that day's show was diversity expert Jane Elliott, who helped set up the experiment and played along, explaining that brown-eyed people were smarter than blue-eyed people.

Watch the video to see how this experiment plays out.

Oprah's Social Experiment on Her Audience www.youtube.com

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Cadbury has removed the words from its Dairy Milk chocolate bars in the U.K. to draw attention to a serious issue, senior loneliness.

On September 4, Cadbury released the limited-edition candy bars in supermarkets and for every one sold, the candy giant will donate 30p (37 cents) to Age UK, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life for the elderly.

Cadbury was prompted to help the organization after it was revealed that 225,000 elderly people in the UK often go an entire week without speaking to another person.

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Well Being

Young people today are facing what seems to be greater exposure to complex issues like mental health, bullying, and youth violence. As a result, teachers are required to be well-versed in far more than school curriculum to ensure students are prepared to face the world inside and outside of the classroom. Acting as more than teachers, but also mentors, counselors, and cheerleaders, they must be equipped with practical and relevant resources to help their students navigate some of the more complicated social issues – though access to such tools isn't always guaranteed.

Take Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, for example, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years, and as a teacher for seven. Entering the profession, she didn't anticipate how much influence a student's home life could affect her classroom, including "students who lived in foster homes" and "lacked parental support."

Dr. Jackie Sanderlin, who's worked in the education system for over 25 years.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience, says it can be difficult to create engaging course work that's applicable to the challenges students face. "I think that sometimes, teachers don't know where to begin. Teachers are always looking for ways to make learning in their classrooms more relevant."

So what resources do teachers turn to in an increasingly fractured world? "Joining a professional learning network that supports and challenges thinking is one of the most impactful things that a teacher can do to support their own learning," Anglemyer says.

Valerie Anglemyer, a middle school teacher with more than 13 years of experience.

A new program for teachers that offers this network along with other resources is the WE Teachers Program, an initiative developed by Walgreens in partnership with ME to WE and Mental Health America. WE Teachers provides tools and resources, at no cost to teachers, looking for guidance around the social issues related to poverty, youth violence, mental health, bullying, and diversity and inclusion. Through online modules and trainings as well as a digital community, these resources help them address the critical issues their students face.

Jessica Mauritzen, a high school Spanish teacher, credits a network of support for providing her with new opportunities to enrich the learning experience for her students. "This past year was a year of awakening for me and through support… I realized that I was able to teach in a way that built up our community, our school, and our students, and supported them to become young leaders," she says.

With the new WE Teachers program, teachers can learn to identify the tough issues affecting their students, secure the tools needed to address them in a supportive manner, and help students become more socially-conscious, compassionate, and engaged citizens.

It's a potentially life-saving experience for students, and in turn, "a great gift for teachers," says Dr. Sanderlin.

"I wish I had the WE Teachers program when I was a teacher because it provides the online training and resources teachers need to begin to grapple with these critical social issues that plague our students every day," she adds.

In addition to the WE Teachers curriculum, the program features a WE Teachers Award to honor educators who go above and beyond in their classrooms. At least 500 teachers will be recognized and each will receive a $500 Walgreens gift card, which is the average amount teachers spend out-of-pocket on supplies annually. Teachers can be nominated or apply themselves. To learn more about the awards and how to nominate an amazing teacher, or sign up for access to the teacher resources available through WE Teachers, visit walgreens.com/metowe.

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One of the major differences between women and men is that women are often judged based on their looks rather than their character or abilities.

"Men as well as women tend to establish the worth of individual women primarily by the way their body looks, research shows. We do not do this when we evaluate men," Naomi Ellemers Ph.D. wrote in Psychology Today.

Dr. Ellers believes that this tendency to judge a woman solely on her looks causes them to be seen as an object rather than a person.

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