Teacher inspires senior’s winning essay


Grace Knotts

Davidson and science teacher Laura Braly catch up after first period in room 216 May 11. “[Braly] taught my paramedical biology class, which is what pushed me to major in biology,” Davidson said. He will attend Stevenson University.

Sophie Bates, Editor in chief

It’s not every-day that a student here nabs a $5,000-check for their favorite teacher and the school.

Senior Randall Davidson was on a scholarship-seeker website earlier this year, looking for possible contests he could be eligible for. The Barnes & Noble’s ‘My Favorite Teacher’ contest stuck out to him, and he decided to enter.

“I just entered and did not expect to win. I thought I had about as much chance of winning this as winning the lottery, because it’s a national competition,” Davidson said.

The contest asked students across the nation to write an essay of 500 words or less about a teacher who’s made an impact in their lives and why. Davidson wrote about Laura Braly, who taught his paramedical biology class last year.

“She really felt like my second mom. She was always really nice and the environment was really inviting, because we were encouraged by her to be really close together,” Davidson said.

To his surprise, Davidson won the contest, which scored him a NOOK tablet reader and a $500-gift card to Barnes & Noble. Braly and the school each received a $5,000-check.

“I am very excited for my family. The money that I received will go towards my daughter and her wife for whatever they need,” Braly said.

Thanks to Braly’s class, he’ll be majoring in biology at Stevenson University, Davidson said.

The June prior to Davidson’s freshman year, his family got notice that the home they were renting would be foreclosed on. From there on, his family was homeless.

Entering freshman year, Davidson’s mother, father and grandmother were living in the Red Roof Inn in Timonium and had spent most of the their life savings, Davidson said. But in January of that year they found affordable rental property. The ordeal took a toll.

“It was definitely a struggle,” Davidson said. “My GPA my freshman year was a 1.6. I cared about academics to an extent, but I didn’t as much as I should have because of what was happening at the time.”

But, going into junior year, Davidson decided it was time for a change.

“I really had to buckle down last year and this year to focus. I went from the 1.6 GPA to a 3.5 now. I had to work really hard to get that back up, but it’s worth it,” Davidson said.

Also, last year Davidson kick-started a collection drive for homeless families with his church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Lutherville-Timonium. Now, the drive has received over 750 donations of various sizes, from a t-shirt to a tent, according to Davidson.

“The collection drive is my way of giving back to the community that gave to us,” Davidson said.

Davidson’s turnaround did not come as a shock to guidance counselor Katie Owens, who worked with Davidson in the AVID program his freshman and sophomore year.

“He has earned every bit of it, and I know he is off to do great things. Randy is compassionate, intelligent and has a perspective of the world that cannot be taught; I am thrilled to see what his future holds,” Owens said.

For Davidson, his journey has taught him more than just about how to get by.

“I realized that you need to work in life. You can’t go through life just constantly scraping by, because you need to work hard. If you work hard, you can get out of practically any situation and work towards a better life,” Davidson said.

photo from Davidson