Julie Wagner


Delwood fourth-grade teacher

“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.” 

– Zig Ziglar, motivational speaker and author


Fourth graders at Delwood Elementary School watched the film “Front of the Class” and were given an assignment to write an essay relating to the theme of “attitude.”

The movie depicts events from the life of Brad Cohen, a young man who grew up with Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder characterized by involuntary vocal and motor tics. Throughout the movie, Cohen kept his sights set on one thing — to be a teacher.

As you can imagine, most schools were resistant to hiring an educator who could barely get through a sentence without one or more vocal tics interrupting the flow of his language. 

However, one school gave him a chance. After 24 rejections, Mountain View Elementary School in Cobb County, Georgia, was his opportunity. 

His attitude created an atmosphere of creative, relevant and enthusiastic learning for his second-grade students. He received the Sallie Mae First-Year Teacher of the Year Award for the state of Georgia for outstanding teaching and being a positive role model.

Several characteristics emerged from the film: courage, patience, kindness, and perseverance. But attitude is the theme that seemed to encompass them all.

The students will have three weeks to complete their essays while going through the writing process from prewriting to a published copy. Delwood staff will evaluate the essays based on a rubric, which is a document that states the expectations for an assignment by listing the criteria and describing levels of quality from outstanding to needs improvement. 

The criteria include using ideas, creating original sentences with descriptive language, and using correct writing mechanics. 

The two essays with the highest scores will be published in Delwood’s monthly newsletter and shared with Delwood’s student body.