Washington, DC–(HISPANIC PR WIRE)–May 8, 2006–Two-time Oscar-winner Hilary Swank has fond memories of Mr. Selleriet at Happy Valley Elementary School in Bellingham, Washington, because he was the first to give her an acting job. Patti LaBelle will always remember the encouraging words of wisdom she received from Ms. Brown at John Bartram High School in Philadelphia. And “That ‘70s Show” star Wilmer Valderrama says Mr. Tucker at Los Angeles’ Taft High School made a lasting impression on him because “he never forgot what he had in common with his students, which is that he was a kid once (as well).”
Behind every famous face lies an unsung hero, a teacher who has provided the inspiration and motivation for success in life. For National Teacher Day, Tuesday, May 9, the National Education Association has collected a list of teachers who have inspired actors, musical artists, athletes and politicians to become who they are today.
“Nearly everyone can recall a teacher who made a difference in their lives,” said NEA President Reg Weaver. “On National Teacher Day, America salutes the nation’s teachers for their care and devotion to preparing the next generation of Academy-Award winners, scientists and future leaders. Teachers make dreams a reality.”
NEA’s “Most Memorable Teachers” list (http://www.nea.org/teacherday) contains candid comments that provide a snapshot of the teachers who made an impact on more than 100 celebrities and notable public figures. Here is a glimpse of what some had to say about their most memorable teachers:
— “During one of our art projects, Ms. Strict pointed out to me how good I was. She gave me one-on-one time and went on to say that I was great at recreating the details on my art project. I, of course, grew more confident in my work and majored in art.”—Constance Marie, actress, “The George Lopez Show”
— “My high school English teacher, who for some reason assigned me the role of Portia in The Merchant of Venice when we read it aloud in class—it was the first time I’d ever done anything remotely like acting, and I thought, hmmmmm…”—Megan Mullally, actress, “Will and Grace”
— “…my elementary school sixth-grade teacher, Mr. Powers. He had a way of connecting with his students and not being judgmental. I also liked the fact that we would have ‘Subway’ days where we’d order Subway sandwiches and eat them in class around lunchtime! You know, as a kid, things like that mean something…”—Michelle Williams, vocalist, former member of Grammy Award-winning trio Destiny’s Child
— “Ms. Mieses taught me the importance of perseverance and discipline one must have in order to obtain results that will bring you happiness and success.”—Zoe Saldana, TV and film actress
— “Mr. Smith introduced me to so many genres of music and taught me how to appreciate them all.”—Ruben Studdard, vocalist, 2002 “American Idol”
— “I will never forget the Rev. John Walker. He was the first African-American teacher at our school, and he got us interested in the growing civil rights movement and, frankly, taught us all a lot about life.”—Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)
— “Ms. Herrod inspired me, she challenged me, she communicated with me and she taught me. The essential ingredients for a memorable teacher.”—Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.)
— “I had some great teachers, but I will give the prize to Margaret Poole, my fourth- and sixth-grade teacher, a strong, optimistic woman who taught me the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic and also encouraged me to be a leader, in an elementary school kind of way.”
—Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.)
Research has shown that the quality of a child’s teacher is the single most important factor in student success. And according to NEA’s Status of the American Public School Teacher, teachers are better educated and more experienced than ever. Here are a few of the survey’s findings worth noting on National Teacher Day:
— A majority of the nation’s 3 million teachers have a master’s degree.
— The average teacher has 15 years of experience.
— More than 75 percent of all teachers participated in professional development related to their grade or subject area.
— For teachers with access to school computers, 73 percent say they use the computer regularly for instructional purposes, and 59 percent use the Web to enhance classroom lessons.
“I’m proud to say on National Teacher Day that America’s children are in excellent hands—they are being taught by the most experienced teachers ever,” said Weaver. “But there are areas we must address in order to ensure great public schools for every child. We have too many teachers leaving the profession and too few teachers of color in the profession. It is more important than ever to focus our efforts on recruiting and retaining qualified teachers for our children.”
About National Teacher Day
NEA celebrates National Teacher Day each year on Tuesday of the first full week of May. The day celebrates the outstanding work and lifelong dedication of teachers nationwide. This year’s theme is Great Teachers Make Great Public Schools. The theme emphasizes the important role teachers play in making sure every child receives a quality public education. Additionally, the theme celebrates teachers and underscores their importance in making great public schools a reality. For more information on National Teacher Day, visit http://www.nea.org/teacherday.
The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 2.8 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.