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VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – The great Orsen Wells once said, “If you want a happy ending – that depends on where you stop your story.”

These are profound words our next Golden Apple award winner agrees with.

For the last three decades, Peggy Grabowski’s story has involved teaching teenagers not only character development from the books they read but also their own personal character development.

It is helping them grow into positive, productive adults.

Grabowski is an English teacher at Terre Haute South Vigo High School. She calls herself a word queen, and in her classroom – words matter.

“The words that we use can be positive, but they can also be damaging. And the connotations of those words are important. And I really want the students to really look at word choice..not only in the literature but in their own speech and in their own writing,” Grabowski told us.

She believes literature lends itself to getting people engaged.

Grabowski is known for circle discussions. That is when students put their desks in a circle to discuss the book they’re reading to keep everyone connected.

“What better way than in English class where we can read books, unpack what’s going on in the book, connect to it ourselves in some way and then maybe do something about it as well,” Grabowski said.

Grabowski also created the ‘Stand Club’ at Terre Haute South. It’s a student-led movement where kids engage in local, national, and even global non-profit organizations.

“Really instills that high character and morales she has. She instills that with her students and they just strive to please her. They care what she thinks,” Dr. Tammy Rowshandel, Terre Haute South’s Principal, said.

When she’s not in the classroom, you’ll often find Mrs. Grabowski coaching the spell bowl team at South. She’s taken her team to the state finals 18 times.

She loves words so much she has a word wall in her classroom. It helps students use those words in their critical thinking.

Peggy Grabowski has taught what she loves for the last 30 years. She told her her favorite thought for the day in the classroom goes like this:

“Life doesn’t have to be perfect in order for it to be wonderful.”