"Do you know the words to the Purple People Eater? Well, there are roughly 1,400 people who grew up in the AlWood School District who know it word for word."
That's how Mackenzie Brown started her report for WQAD News 8's "My Favorite Teacher" Contest.
The teacher who taught her and hundreds of others those lyrics is Miss Mary Fuson, who's been teaching 1st Grade at AlWood Elementary School in Alpha, Illinois for 39 years.
"My second grade teacher was an inspiration to me," she explained. "I wanted to be a teacher since I was 7 years old because of her."
And because of that, Miss Fuson has been an inspiration to so many:
"Most of my aunts, uncles, and other relatives have had the pleasure of entering Miss Fuson's room as students and now parents of students," said Mackenzie, who's now an 8th Grader at AlWood Middle School.
"Miss Fuson is not just a fantastic teacher," she added. "I always understood the content she was teaching me. She is just a genuinely a good woman. She is a great role model and she treats each individual student with the same respect."
That's why Mackenzie helped get the entire AlWood School District into one room to give Miss Fuson the surprise of her life - a nomination for the "My Favorite Teacher" Award.
"Everybody at the school asked me what the assembly was about since I've been here the longest, so they figured I'd know and I said I don't have a clue, so I was shocked," she said.
"It meant a great deal to me," she added. "It makes me want to do more and do better than I've ever done before."
And that passion and purpose has an impact on students for years.
"While her students adore her, it's not until later in life that many students realize how much of an impact Miss Fuson had on them," Mackenzie wrote. "Students in junior high, high school, and as adults are frequently stopping by to visit Miss Fuson, just to say thank you."
However, this thank you, may top them all.
Mackenzie also wrote about how Miss Fuson is a big fan of the "Wizard of Oz" and takes her 1st graders on a field trip every year to see her "Wizard of Oz" collection. She also celebrates the 100th day of school by throwing a party for her students.
Miss Fuson - and all the winners of our "My Favorite Teacher" Award - receives a bag full of prizes from our sponsors, including a $25 Visa gift card from Black Hawk Bank & Trust as well as a fleece blanket from Western Illinois University Quad Cities.
Mackenzie - and all the students who nominated their favorite teacher - also receive a prize, including a $50 Visa gift card from Black Hawk Bank & Trust and a water bottle from Western Illinois University Quad Cities.