Phillies honor Downingtown teacher after student's touching letter

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It was a moment that brought an admittedly surprised and humbled sixth-grade teacher to tears. Watch the report from Alicia Vitarelli on Action News at 4 p.m. on May 8, 2018. (WPVI)

There's something very powerful about a really good teacher who makes a really big impact.

On Tuesday, an educator at Marsh Creek Sixth Grade Center in Downingtown, Pennsylvania was not only celebrated for the work he does in the classroom, but he was also nominated by one of his own students, whose impassioned essay earned him a new title: all-star.

It was a moment that brought an admittedly surprised and humbled sixth-grade teacher to tears.

The whole school gathered to celebrate Jon Wilson as a 2018 Phillies ENGIE All-Star Teacher.

Former student Lillian Yost wrote the nomination letter that earned Mr. Wilson the all-star status.

"I wrote the letter for my teacher because I thought he should be recognized for what he has done for me," said the now seventh grader.

She read it for the crowd of more than 1,200 students, explaining why he is her star:

"Mr. Wilson is my star. He is the best teacher I have ever had. He made me enjoy life, math and friends again. He would do anything to make anyone giggle at one of his jokes. And he would always help us with problems outside of math. Last year, I went through bullying from several people, and without Mr. Wilson I would probably have never gotten out of the sadness that came with it. He always made me laugh and smile, and it made me forget about anything happening outside of the classroom. Once, to cheer up one of the kids in my class, he sat up on a desk and started to do the hula, swaying his hips and making his hands look like waves. And he made the whole class burst out in laughter so loud that it sounded like thunder. Not only did he make us laugh. He cared about everyone in his class. Their big problems and their small problems. Not only was he a great friend, but he was also a great teacher. He would answer any question and every question like it was the most important thing in the world. He would explain things so each and every student would understand. He was the first math teacher who made me actually understand math. He gave me reasons why we should use it, and gave us math problems that we could use in real life. So, as anyone could tell, he was a great teacher and a great person. The amount of investment he put into our lives is inspiring. Mr. Wilson is my star."

A father of three, Wilson explains that kind of mentoring comes easy, because he's been there.

"I fought my whole life to become a teacher. I didn't think I was smart enough. I didn't think I was good enough," Wilson said. "I refused to watch kids go through life feeling the way I felt for most of mine. So, I make it a duty to get these kids to believe in themselves."

It's the math, he jokes, that's a little tough.

"It's always been my motto that if they leave with math, that's great. But if they leave with self-confidence and believe in themselves, that's going to leave them with a lot more than what I can give them with a textbook," he said.

And this Friday, Wilson will be honored among the ten Phillies teacher all-stars right before the Phillies take on the Mets game at Citizens Bank Park.

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