PORTAGE | Myers Elementary School teacher Cindy Hargarten was nearly speechless.
"I can't even explain how honored I am," she said Wednesday night as one of the 30 teachers honored by students as their most influential educator during their career in Portage Township Schools.
Hartgarten was chosen by Portage High School senior Stephanie Vance to join her at the 19th annual ACES - Academic Champions Excelling in School - banquet.
"I tried to think of the one teacher who help me along the most. She's the one teacher who pushed me," said Vance, who will attend Ball State University to study architecture.
Hartgarten said it was the first time she was chosen and it was a humbling experience.
Thirty of the top PHS seniors chose their most influential educator to attend the banquet with them and their parents. Teachers were presented with a crystal apple and students received a medal for their accomplishment.
Betty Turley came out of retirement to have dinner with Mike Sutkowski. Turley was his fifth-grade teacher.
"He had a strong handshake. He showed great leadership," Turley said of Sutkowski.
"She really struck with me as someone influential in my life," said Sutkowski, who will major in electrical engineering at Purdue Calumet, adding Turley taught him to "step up and help."
Senior Christopher Perry said PHS math teacher Ted Marthakis inspired him.
"He inspired me to advance into math and take college classes, said Perry, who will study physics at Purdue University in West lafayette.
"It is an incredible feeling of satisfaction, a feeling of what I was doing, I was doing well," said Marthakis about the recognition. "It is just an honor and a validation of what we do as teachers and Chris is an incredible talent."
"It means everything. It is such an honor," agreed PHS German teacher Candis Carey, who was chosen by Bethany Adams.
"She just seem like she cared about everybody," Adams, who will attend Purdue North Centeral, said about Carey.