Bruce Finch loves reading stories about folk heroes to second graders at School No. 57. Principal Roshon Bradley says Mr. Finch is a legend in the Rochester School District.
"He is a phenomenal teacher. When we have students that have graduated they come back years later and they always ask for one name, Mr. Finch," he said.
SUNY Geneseo freshman Cloudia Ross says Mr. Finch has been part of her life since second grade, through good times and bad. He's become a friend.
"Yeah and I also looked up to him as a father figure too. So he always taught me to like keep my head held high. And stuff. And when I couldn't do stuff to not give up," she said.
All these years later Cloudia thought a Golden Apple Award was the perfect way to say thank you. We got him good!
Teaching is Bruce Finch's passion. He hopes to leave his mark on every student. Cloudia is proof he does.
"Coming back means everything to me because when I look into their faces I get inspired to do what I do," Finch said.
"He is special" says Mr. Bradley. "There's something about Bruce Finch that you can't just teach. It's something that is God-given."
"And because I'm filled with the spirit and that spirit I try to impart to all of you, to see that come back it's just the answer to prayers," Finch said.
Bruce Finch is a News 8 Golden Apple Award winner. If you look below you can read the letter we received from Cloudia nominating him.
Dear News 8,
Most of us end up with no more than five or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives. One teacher who I will always remember is none other than, Mr. Finch.
Growing up in a single parent home, I never really had a strong male figure besides my big brother, who could show me the way of life. Then Mr. Finch came in the picture. There I was just in 2nd grade, terrified as ever and Mr. Finch was always there to put a smile on my face. Of course he was mean at times and strict, but he always told me, "Cloudia, you keep your head held high, and you remember that you are in control of your future, and don't you ever let anyone else tell you otherwise."
Mr. Finch is the type of teacher you can grow a bond with that can never be broken, under any circumstances and no matter the distance. He's the type of teacher you can tell anything to and not feel like you'll be judged, but instead be there for you every step of the way.
Even after 2nd grade, years later he went on to give a speech at my Sweet 16 in front of all my friends and family, reassuring me that I did indeed serve a purpose in this World. Sadly, last September of 2012, I lost my brother in a fatal accident, and there was Mr. Finch by our side, giving us hugs and kisses, and sending prayers our way.
I will never, ever forget all that Mr. Finch has done for me, from yelling at me for writing a misspelled word 11 years ago, to still calling me every once in a while to make sure I'm doing well. Because of his and many other people's never ending faith in me, I can say that I have truly grown into someone I would have never imagined being. A teacher effects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops. Thank you so much, this means the absolute world to me!
Cloudia Ross, SUNY Geneseo Freshman
Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.