MOLINE, Illinois - Jestanie Sims couldn't be more excited...
"Mr. Rhea, you're My Favorite Teacher!" she said to her freshman literature teacher, Mr. Philip Rhea.
Philip Rhea must be teaching his literature, language, and college writing classes well because Jestanie's letter was picked as one of the five best we got in the "My Favorite Teacher" contest.
In a way, Jestanie's topic was easy: it's her favorite teacher.
"He's the kind of teacher that will let you have fun while learning but will quickly correct the problem when your "working hard" becomes "hardly working", she wrote.
It's an issue of attitude.
Jestanie says it's the way Mr. Rhea welcomes students to class and it's also the way he teaches it.
"He wants you to think about it. He doesn't just want you to write this down because it's what I told you to do. He's like I want you to think about it and I want your input into it."
Mr. Rhea has been at Moline High School for seven years. He's one of the new wave of teachers who is embracing the latest technology to teach the classics.
"I thrive on that", he says. "So ,any students are working on technology today and I try to use that as much as I can."
But forget the laptops and the other gadgets, it's the one-on-one attention that is making a difference in Mr. Rhea's classroom.
"You have your serious teachers," says Jestanie, "and you have your funny teachers and he's just kinda in the middle and I feel like if you grew up around him or anything like that he'd make you want to smile."
Not only smile, but learn lessons that'll stay with you even after you've left his classroom.
Mr. Rhea not only teaches freshmen in his literature and language arts class, he teaches seniors in a college writing course at Moline High School.
Because her "My Favorite Teacher" essay was selected, Jestanie is getting a $200 Visa check card from Blackhawk Bank and Trust. Mr. Rhea gets a $25 gift certificate to "Teacher's Aide" from Community Health Care. The classroom gets So-Be Life Water.