LT alum nominates teacher for award


Kristine Blachinski LT yearbook photo

Grace Moore, Reporter

Two weeks into June, Kristine Blachinski had finally relaxed after a stressful year of preparing students for their AP Calculus exam over Zoom when she received a letter in the mail from Christopher Clarke ‘20, a previous student of hers. The letter revealed to her that she had been nominated by him, unbeknownst to her, for the University of Chicago’s Outstanding Educator award. 

“Just to know you’re doing something well when it feels like everything has been so challenged and compromised this year, that’s the value behind the award,” Blachinski said.

Once the students that applied to the University of Chicago are accepted in May, the university explains to the new class of freshman that they will be nominating a teacher. They can nominate a teacher for impacting their lives academically, emotionally or as a whole. This award is given every year. Many students responded to this opportunity by nominating a teacher, according to the University of Chicago. Not all that were nominated won; even though Blachinski didn’t win, it was the recognition that she appreciated, she said.

This led Blachinski to receive the letter from Clarke about how she had bettered his life. Along with the letter, she was also given a University of Chicago sweatshirt, a plaque and a certificate. This year in particular, they recognized the hard work of the teachers due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blachinski said.

“It’s a feel-good, nice moment for a teacher to hear positive feedback from a student,” Blachinski said. “To still have a student say ‘you made a really big impact on my learning, and I just wanted to say thank you’ is huge today,” Blachinski said.

One person that has greatly influenced Blachinski in her life is her second grade teacher June Scott. Scott taught for 40 years and started her student teaching at 40 after deciding to raise her family first. Scott has always enjoyed keeping in touch with her students throughout their lives. 

“[Blachinski] is a wonderful teacher, and a beautiful person inside and out,” Scott said. 

Blachinski hadn’t told Scott about the award until she sent her an email in late October.

“Kristine is very modest, but I’m so proud of her; she certainly deserves it and more,” Scott said.

This modesty has carried Blachinski throughout her career at LT

“Everyday I feel like we could be doing this so much better,” Blachinski said. “To still know that I could make an impact and that someone felt like this [made this] an awesome year.”

In September, the University of Chicago let the high schools know about the teachers who won the Outstanding Educator Award. Once LT made it public that Blachinski had won, many students reached out to her to tell her that she had impacted their lives. Blachinski received letters from students she had five years ago. 

“That was really eye opening in a time like today, when I feel so compromised, to hear that I’m doing a good job,” Blachinski said. “It felt really good.”