Murfreesboro 8th grader wins statewide essay contest

Rawan Haj-Hussein (Photo: WKRN)

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) – The State Department of Education hosted an essay contest, asking students, ‘how does your teacher inspire you?’

Thousands of students entered the essay contest and only four were picked, including a Murfreesboro 8th grader.

It’s been two years since Rawan Haj-Hussein sat in her favorite teacher’s classroom, but she remembers it like it was yesterday.

The 8th grader entered the statewide essay contest writing about her Northfield Elementary 6th grade teacher Tammy Sutton.

Reading her essay Haj-Hussein said, “I know things don’t come easy in life but I know now to keep trying. I know that from my sixth grade math teacher Mrs. Sutton. Thank you Mrs. Sutton for inspiring me to work as hard as I do today.”

And Mrs. Sutton had no idea.

“I was so excited to her face,” said Haj-Hussein.

Tamy Sutton and Rawan Haj-Hussein (Photo: WKRN)
Tamy Sutton and Rawan Haj-Hussein (Photo: WKRN)

She would have never guessed Rawan was talking about her.

“I don’t see myself as anything special,” said Sutton

Rawan obviously disagrees.

“She always came up with new and different ways to learn things,” says Haj-Hussein. “School became fun.”

Mrs. Sutton says growing up, math was taught to her in a two dimensional way. She says it was a bunch of rules thrown at her but that’s not how they do things in her classroom.

“You’ve got to make those connections,” said Sutton. “You can’t teach, for example, geometry with just pencil and paper. You’ve got to touch it and see it and do it and that’s what we do.”

The State Department of Education was there, too with another surprise, a $400 check to spend however she wants.

Rawan got a similar $400 check to go towards her college tuition one day.

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