Black man named Texas Teacher of the Year for first time: 'I'm not the first to deserve it'

By Cameron Jenkins - The Hill

An elementary teacher is the first Black man to be named Texas Teacher of the Year.

"I'm the first to win it, but I'm not the first to deserve it," Eric Hale told The Washington Post on Wednesday.

Eric Hale teaches first grade and kindergarten at David G. Burnet Elementary School in Dallas and was named the 2021 Texas Teacher of the Year in a virtual Zoom ceremony in September.

The title has been given to excellent educators within the state of Texas since 1969, according to the Texas Association of School Administrators.

"I am a teacher because I'm chasing the ghost of the educator I needed as a child," Hale told the Post. "My mission is to make sure that children that are going through poverty and traumatic experiences get the hope they need."

A DJ booth and gold accents decorate Hale's classroom and he routinely creates and names songs after his students, according to the Post.

"His kids always outperform in academics, and the parents are always thankful," Sonia Loskot, principal of David G. Burnet Elementary School, told the Post. "He tells the kids they are champions, and they really believe it."

And with the coronavirus pandemic offering new challenges to education, Hale said he has welcomed the change.

"I have learned that regardless of this pandemic, whether in a classroom or not, I can find innovative ways to deliver learning resources to my students in pursuit of continued greatness," Hale said in a press release.

Hale is set to receive a cash award and trophy and will go on to represent the state of Texas on the national level of the Teacher of the Year competition.

The educator who is chosen as the National Teacher of the Year will be announced in the spring of 2021 at a ceremony held in the Rose Garden at the White House.

"I'm not only inspiring children that look like me or come from the same situation as me, but I'm also inspiring children who don't look like me, who come from good situations, to see a Black man as a champion, a hero, an advocate and a quality teacher," Hale told the Post.

"I believe I was put on this Earth to advocate and fight for kids that don't get fought for," he said. "I know that some of the brightest minds come from the darkest places."

October 14, 2020

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