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She has been teaching for 19 years and has been nominated before for different awards, but Christine Hindman has never won any of them.
That is, until now.
“Every year, we ask students, parents and administrators to send in essays about their favorite teachers, telling how they touched their lives or how they have gone above and beyond,” said Jessica Wilt, the coordinator of the education program with the Phillies. “We got about 1,000 essays this year and Mrs. Hindman was one of our winners.”
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Hindman was nominated by Whitney Zuleski, one of her student’s moms.
In her essay to the Phillies, she described how Hindman helped to turn her son, Zack, from someone who hated school into a student who wanted to go to her class every day.
Even when she was sick.
“She was also out sick (hospitalized for pneumonia) and e-mailed me to let (her) know in case the substitute didn’t send home Zack’s special folder … from the hospital,” read Zuleski’s essay. “She has been instrumental in helping my son reduce, if not eliminate, episodes of refusing to participate.”
Out of the thousand essays the Phillies received from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, Hindman’s ability to go above and beyond, even from a hospital bed, proved her worthy of recognition.
“We really liked how dedicated she is to her students,” Wilt said. “She’s really dedicated and cares about her students. It’s awesome to hear how she truly changed Zack’s attitude about education and made him excited about learning.”
But the news slipped by Hindman.
“I missed the phone call completely from the representative at the Phillies,” she said. “Mrs. Zuleski emailed me the one day and said congratulations. I said, ‘Congratulations for what?’ I really didn’t know.”
The following day gave her all the information she needed to know what was going on.
“Another parent in my classroom came in and had decorated my door in my classroom with this big Phillies All-Star Teacher poster, balloons and streamers,” Hindman said.
After all the years of never having her name chosen, Hindman was more than thrilled to share the news with her family.
“I was blown away,” she said. “I was ecstatic and over-the-moon about it. At home at the dinner table with my husband and two kids, we go around and talk about our day. I said, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re never going to believe this. One of my parents nominated me and I got picked as a winner.’ They were so excited and were screaming.”
As part of the recognition, Hindmand and Zuleski were both invited, along with a guest each, to a Phillies game on May 8 as part of Teacher Appreciation Night, sponsored by GDF SUEZ Energy Resources.
Before the game, all 10 winners, the nominators and guests enjoyed a tent party with food and entertainment outside the ballpark before meeting a Phillie.
“(Justin De Fratus) came out and talked about a teacher who had been a role model in his life,” Hindman said. “Then we got to go behind the scenes in the stadium — we went down to the media room for a while and on the field for batting practice.”
While waiting to take the field again for the ceremony, Zack Zuleski, with his new approach to participation, asked to be the one to introduce Hindman on the field in front of the large crowd.
“When we were in the media room, they gave you the little paper with the line from the essay,” Hindman said. “They handed it to (Zuleski), but Zack said, ‘No, I’m going to read it.’
“We sat and practiced reading because it had some really big words in it and he did it. I was really happy and proud that he decided to read it and got up there on the microphone and did it.”
Each of the 10 teachers, after they were introduced and a line from each essay was read, were given a framed copy of the nominating — and winning — essay.
“It was definitely something I will remember forever,” Hindman said.