BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Nhung Ngo, 19, graduates Monday, May 15 from Baton Rouge Magnet High, but on Thursday night, she stood proudly next to her favorite teacher.
Ngo has never taken Ms. Denson's world geography class, which is offered mostly to 9th graders, but she has shared many happy times in Baton Rouge Magnet High's enormous and enthusiastic Key Club. The club is successful, in part, Ngo says, because Ms. Denson is that good at getting kids excited about doing good things in the community.
On May 11, Barnes & Noble Citiplace announced that Ngo's essay had won their "My Favorite Teacher" contest. The store had invited middle and high school students to submit essays, poems, and thank-you letters sharing how their teacher had influenced their life and why they appreciated and admired their teacher.
Ngo says she knew Ms. Denson was the one who should win.
"She came to my house to help me in the flood," said Ngo, who never had Ms. Denson as a teacher in a typical classroom setting.
Ngo says the friendship they developed in Key Club caused Ms. Denson to realize that Ngo's family suffered a huge loss in the flood and was there for her.
"And how she was there for me when I cried, and then she helped me gut my house also. Since I'm the only person in my house with fluent English, she helped me with my FEMA paperwork and helped me talk to the FEMA," said Ngo.
Ngo says her whole family owes a great debt to Ms. Denson's tireless enthusiasm to get them back on their feet. Barnes & Noble made the evening special and gave Ngo flowers.
"She's [Denson] an artist and loves anything colorful, so that's why I got her some flowers. And then also my name in English is Rose and so I gave that to her," said Ngo.
Ngo says once she crosses the stage with her family, parents, and two little brothers, who are 9 and 7-year-old, and who've always been boys who irritated their big sis, she'll go to LSU to study biology. Ngo does not know what kind of medicine she wants to practice, but she's excited for the future.
As for Ms. Denson, she works two jobs. Ngo says besides working at school, Denson sings in a band called Press 1 for English. Ngo says Denson has a son in college and uses both jobs to help pay for his education. Sounds like this teacher has boundless energy and a heart of gold.