Cross-posted from TEACH.gov
On Thursday, June 16th Secretary Arne Duncan participated in a lively panel discussion about the importance of teachers with students from Benjamin Banneker High School. Several hundred students attended the discussion, with many crowding around microphones to ask their questions. Secretary Duncan was joined by NFL Teacher of the Year, Burt Grossman, and NFL Hall-of-Famer Randall McDaniel, as well as Banneker principal Anita Berger and nationally recognized teacher, Charles Feeser.
The spirited discussion covered everything from the challenges and rewards of teaching to the importance of increasing the number of minority and male teachers, to major improvements that can be made in schools and districts.
All of the teachers agreed that teaching was dynamic and challenging and further emphasized that those qualities kept them in the classroom: “Football was easy, Mr. McDaniel said, “that’s just a game you play.” He went on to say he’s found true satisfaction in “affecting young people’s lives.” Mr. Grossman agreed, saying, “In the end, I wanted something fulfilling.”
All three teachers expressed determination and dedication to their students’ comprehension of material and well-being. Working with special education students was what Mr. Feeser identified as his greatest challenge, but nonetheless he was determined to help every child learn the material covered. “You don’t know [what else is] out there until someone tells you,” McDaniel asserted. “I’m going to give back until I can’t.”
With these benefits and challenges in mind, Secretary Duncan addressed the importance of elevating the profession of teaching, and emphasized that “our ability to hire teachers over the next five to seven years will influence education for the next 30.” He described several schools that have greatly improved in the last few years, and cited high expectations as the most important factor in elevating those communities. Secretary Duncan closed by issuing a challenge to the students in the audience: to be responsible for their own education. “You can’t get a good education unless you’re committed to your education.”
The NFL Teacher of the Year Award recognizes former NFL players who have followed their playing careers with excellence in the field of education. This year’s winner, Mr. Grossman, is a six year veteran Defensive End of the National Football League and is currently an Advisory Teacher of the Cardinal Connect Academy at Hoover High School in San Diego, CA. Mr. Grossman coordinates the school’s YouthBuild mentoring program, projects for the school’s special needs education department, and coaches defensive line for the Cardinals varsity football team.
For more information on how you can inspire change in the lives of the students in your community, visit TEACH.gov.