Brenda Bradshaw, 2003 winner of the Distinguished Teacher Award

Brenda Bradshaw of Statesville (NC) Middle School received the Mensa Foundation's Distinguished Teacher Award in 2003. She was nominated by Mensan Kelly Elizabeth Hilton. The following is excerpted from Hilton's essay:

"I entered Ms. Bradshaw’s academically gifted English class in the sixth grade with very little confidence in my abilities. With her support and encouragement, I slowly began to believe that I wasn’t stupid. Aware of my learning disability, she made accommodations for it but never lowered her expectations for me. She taught a classroom full of gifted students how to use our minds to analyze what we heard or read, and then to communicate our conclusions or opinions.... Ms. Bradshaw wanted to hear our opinions, respected our ideas and demanded that same respect from everyone in the class. The classroom assignments and homework she gave us were challenging without being overwhelming. She encouraged constantly, prodded when necessary, and truly enjoyed us as students.

"Ms. Bradshaw concern for me did not stop when I left her classroom. She met with my high school teachers to help them understand my unique situation — that of being gifted and learning disabled. She continues to do much for her gifted students. She challenges them daily, expects great things from each of them, and helps them explore their individual talents. She asks a lot of her students, but gives even more. I can’t begin to number the hours she has spent with them after school. She is truly one in a million and I feel very fortunate to have been in her classes. She is the teacher I will never forget."