Megan Holtzapple, a Summit School of Ahwatukee seventh-grader, recently won Barnes & Noble’s annual My Favorite Teacher contest by submitting her essay about her fifth- and sixth-grade teacher, Lori Christianson.

Holtzapple had Christianson as her reading and writing teacher, and through the two years they developed a special bound.

Both share a passion and love for reading. Over the summer breaks Holtzapple and Christianson exchange emails about the different books they read.

“That’s been our common bond, the love of books,” Christianson said.

Holtzapple wrote the essay in January, where she explained how her favorite teacher influenced her throughout her fifth- and sixth-grade years at Summit.

“My mom read me the flier and I thought of Mrs. Christianson,” Holtzapple said. “I just wrote mostly about the first time we met, and where I was a new student in fifth grade. She kind of smiled at me and I saw all the books so I knew it was going to be fine. She’s always been there for me.”

During her writing time, Holtzapple suffered from a foot injury, which rendered her from walking and she had to sleep downstairs on the coach for a few months.

One night, unable to sleep, she began writing her essay about her beloved teacher and how she has played a special role in her education.

Holtzapple was informed a few weeks ago that her essay won, and was entered into a regional competition with the prize being a $500 Barnes & Noble gift card.

Christianson had no idea that her former student had submitted the essay, and was blown away from the humble gesture.

“It’s validation. You kind of sink your heart and soul into these kids, and here at Summit we are lucky because we have elementary and middle school so we get to see them grow up,” Christianson said. “To me it meant more because Megan had moved on, and had other adults in her life that are hugely influential, but she thought of me. It was pretty special… there were a lot of tears over that one.”

Holtzapple’s current goal is to become a professional writer, so receiving this award is a small stepping stone toward that dream.

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