Booker High School teacher named winner of national Barnes & Noble competition

Lem Andrews nominated by a former student

Ellen Bausback and Lem Andrews pose with a mockup of the check he received from Barnes & Noble. Contributed photo

Barnes & Noble has named Lem Andrews of Booker High School the winner of its My Favorite Teacher Contest, the Sarasota County School District has announced.

Andrews, who was nominated by his former student, Ellen Bausback, was chosen from more than 4,700 entries submitted nationwide, a news release says.

From January to March, Barnes & Noble invited students to nominate their favorite teachers by writing essays, poems or thank-you letters, sharing how specific teachers influenced their lives and why they appreciate and admire those teachers, the release explains. The entries, which were accepted at Barnes & Noble stores, “were judged on the compelling nature of the teacher’s qualities, the sincerity of the student’s appreciation and the quality of expression and writing,” the release adds.

“The Barnes & Noble My Favorite Teachercontest is one of the many ways that we thank educators for all they do to positively impact the lives of kids,” said Tracy Vidakovich, vice president for business development for Barnes & Noble, in the release. “We are dedicated to recognizing educators for their important work, and this contest gives us a chance to celebrate thousands of teachers each year,” she added in the release.

Vidakovich also noted “Ellen Bausback’s inspiring essay” about Andrews.

Bausback wrote, “Mr. Lem Andrews is the reason that I am going to college. Not only is Mr. Andrews a post-secondary advisor and teacher at my school, but he is also my mentor, my ally, and my number-one fan. When I arrived [for] my freshman year at Booker High School, I wandered into Mr. Andrews’ ‘College and Career Resource Room’ none the wiser. After a quick introduction and a handshake, Mr. Andrews got right to work, immediately seeing some unrealized potential in the shy, timid girl that had stumbled into his room.”

Bausback continued, “‘You’re coming to speak at an Alpha Kappa Alpha luncheon with me,’ he said. ‘We’re going to get you talking!’ Reluctantly, I dragged my soft-spoken self to the event, where I had the opportunity to meet a hundred amazing women and speak to them about my future goals. I stuttered through my speech, but in the end, I was proud of overcoming my fear of public speaking. With this small experience, Mr. Andrews had started a transformation in me.”

Andrews received $5,000 and was recognized at a community celebration at his school, the release notes. Booker High School also received $5,000, the release says.

“It’s truly an honor to be recognized by Barnes & Noble as Teacher of the Year,” Andrews said in the release. “Out of the hundreds of students you work with, to have one that’s inspired enough to write something about you is a reward like no other,” he added in the release.

To learn more about Barnes & Noble’s My Favorite Teachercontest, customers may speak with one of the booksellers at the Sarasota store, the release says, or they may visit