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Editor’s note: Curie’s Tiara Ousley’s Teach for the Stars submission is the winning entry for January.

For Sara Hughes, a science teacher at Curie, a career in teaching is all about connecting with her students. Hughes credits her love for teaching to Mrs. Varvodick, her former English teacher at Bogan High School. “She showed me that even in a school that’s not so good you can still motivate your kids,” she says, “and I thought that maybe I can be a teacher and can motivate kids the way that she does.”

Hughes says she looks forward to teaching her students every day. “They are all very respectful, they work together so well and they try to do well in class,” she says. “They put their best foot forward.”

Tiara Ousley, sophomore, is one of the students that Hughes continue to inspire every day. Ousley answered a few questions for The Mash.

Tell us how your teacher inspires you.
“Ms. Hughes inspires me because every time I and my classmates are supposed to do our work, she always gives us chances to make it up. She’s always patient and always breaks down the class lessons in a way that we understand (them). She always takes the time to cater to each student’s needs, (even though) my classmates (asks) about a million questions and can get really goofy at times. But besides that, we never go a day without laughing in her class because her easy-going personality makes it easy for us to be ourselves and to be expressive.

Ms. Hughes’ cool personality and actions send us the message that we can always talk to her about anything. She’s more than just our teacher, she’s also our mentor and friend.

I remember when one time (we) just happened to sit next to each other on the Orange Line. I used to think that it would be weird to be in the same place outside of school with a teacher, but it didn’t feel that way with Ms. Hughes.

This was because her cool personality was true and this just made our conversation on the train even more fun. So, at the end of the day when I reflect on what teacher inspires me, Ms. Hughes is the person that comes to mind. She inspires me with her beautiful qualities to follow her lead and to try to be the type of person that anyone can relate and talk to and have fun with.”

What’s the funniest thing your teacher has ever said?
(Hughes speaks to a student in chemistry lab) “Did your water get cut off again? Is that the reason why you’re playing with my sink?”

What do you think your teacher would do with a $50 gift card?
“Shopping”

What’s the most random thing about your teacher?
“Ms. Hughes likes to play ’Final Fantasy’ … and figure out Sudoku puzzles.”

Want your teacher to be the next Teach for the Stars? Fill out our Teach for the Stars questionnaire! The winning teacher and student will each receive a $50 gift card.

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About The Mash

The Mash is the Chicago Tribune's newspaper and website written for teens, by teens. The paper is distributed for free each Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students.

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