Huggins wins Real Teacher of the Year contest, $10k grant for THS

ALABASTER – As a result of Thompson High School English teacher Jacob Huggins being named a winner of Rack Room Shoe’s 2019 Real Teacher of the Year contest, the school was awarded a $10,000 technology grant on Monday, Dec. 2, and Huggins will receive free shoes from the retailer for one year.

According to a news release from Rack Room Shoes, the national competition called for customers to nominate teachers who have made a positive impact in the lives of children. Rack Room Shoes committed to awarding five $10,000 grants to the schools of the winning teachers. Each teacher will receive free shoes for a year, which is valued at $540 and equivalent to $45 a month for 12 consecutive months.

A total of 175 teachers were nominated and five winners were announced after a public voting period, which took place Oct. 21 through Nov. 1.

“The Real Teacher of the Year Contest allowed individuals to say ‘thank you’ by recognizing teachers who have made an influential impact in their lives, while also playing a part in giving back to their schools in a unique way,” said Mark Lardie, president and CEO of Rack Room Shoes.

Huggins was nominated by one of his students, Britton Wade. Huggins was Wade’s 10th grade English teacher and is now her creative writing teacher. In her essay nominating Huggins, Wade wrote that he is “the most wonderful teacher” she’s ever had.

Read Wade’s heartwarming nomination essay below:

“Imagine your ideal favorite teacher – funny, genuine, kind, caring, great at his/her job – Mr. Huggins is all that, and more. He would do anything in the world for his students. He’s a joy to be around and he is incredibly funny and sweet. You can talk to him about anything. I draw a lot and sometimes I show Mr. Huggins my art. Every time he sees a new drawing, he gets excited and tells me how much he loves it, and then says something like “I wish I could draw like you” or “you’re gonna work for Pixar one day, I just know it,” which is actually something I’d love to do.

He’s also super supportive of my writing. I have a passion for story-writing and he always writes the nicest comments on my stories and essays. And it’s not just me who he encourages. He offers kind words and encouragement to other students whenever he gets the chance. Mr. Huggins is a joy to be around, he’s super cool, and he’s so easy to talk to. He’s up-to-date on the things his students are into and he even dresses up for Halloween and participates in school dress-up days. If one of his students is having a rough day, he’ll try his best to cheer him or her up. He even creates nicknames for all his students, and he greets everyone who walks into his classroom with a high five and a friendly smile.

He is willing to dedicate as much time as he can to helping his students and getting to know them personally. Ask anyone at my school who has or has had him as a teacher, and they’ll tell you they love him too. While Mr. Huggins focuses a lot on teaching, which he does through creative presentations and fun, engaging activities, he cares more about the well-being of his students.

He encourages us to be the best version of ourselves, challenges us to go outside our comfort zones, and inspires us to be the good in the world. He does this all through things such as “Good Deed Tuesdays” for his English classes and “Carpe Diem Tuesdays” for his creative writing classes, in which he encourages us to do something kind or brave and then share with the class each Tuesday what we did.

Mr. Huggins has inspired me to consider being a teacher in the future. I want to give kids the same love and support Mr. Huggins has given me. I feel like sometimes his awesomeness goes unnoticed, and he really should be recognized more for all he does. He genuinely cares about his job as a teacher and would do anything for his students. Mr. Huggins deserves the Real Teacher of the Year Award.”