October 19th, 2010
11:04 AM ET

iReport daily challenge: #BeAHero for teachers

Editor's Note: Learn about the top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010 and vote for the CNN Hero of the Year at CNNHeroes.com.

America’s public schools are failing. That’s the provocative premise of two new education documentaries “Waiting for Superman” and “The Lottery.” The films, which follow families who are frustrated with the public schools in their neighborhoods, have sparked a debate about what education solutions are needed.

One of the chief complaints in the discussion is that the films ignore the good work that’s happening in public schools.

You can help.

Here's your “Be a Hero” call to action for the day: Give a public shout out to a public school teacher who made a difference in your life. It could be your child’s teacher, or an instructor you had as a child.

By 3 p.m. EST today post your response in the comments here, tweet your praise with the hashtag #BeAHero or send us an iReport about that special teacher. Which teacher did you choose? How did that person inspire, motivate or change you?

Check back here in the evening, when we will post a roundup of the most standout daily heroics.

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Filed under: #BeaHero
soundoff (169 Responses)
  1. Suzanne Baker

    I was blessed to have several fantastic teachers back in the 1970s in rural Ohio. Mr. Irv Belzer was a 6th grade teacher at Penfield Elementary and he taught me to write poetry, and how to write well. For that I owe him so much. Mr. Dale Butler was my Social Studies teacher in 7th and 8th grade at Keystone Junior High School. Not only did he teach me how to research and write, but when he saw me straying into "the wrong crowd" of kids, he talked to me and set me straight. These two men made a big difference in my life, lit my love of reading and writing, and of education in general.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:11 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Marcus Doe

    Mrs. Judy Federline was my Algebra teacher at Seneca Valley High School in Germantown, MD. She was an amazing teacher and an even better person. She kept me after school so that I could get all the homework i needed from EVERY teacher. She explain equations and the foreign language of Algebra to me. An orphan boy from a war torn African country, Mrs. Federline was a parent for me in high school. Even after i left her class i still stopped by and did homework afterschool in her classroom. I left high school 13 years ago and I still communicate with her through emails and we occasionally have lunch now that she is retired. I am a teacher myself these days, and i hope I am half as good as Mrs. Federline. Thank you, I appreciate what you did for me.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • Judy Federline

      Marcus, I am so humbled by your comments. The part that you gave me so much. You were & still are such a remarkable person. You were such a joy to watch develop into the beautiful man you have become, both inside & out. I loved our many talks, especially watching your face when you spoke of your family, particularly your grandmother. I feel Blessed to be such a part of your life & cannot wait to see you again.

      October 20, 2010 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Nicole Dewell

    Wendy Mann & Alan Pfister of Eagle Valley Elementary School in Eagle, Colorado are wonderful 3rd grade teachers. They love kids and it shows. They are demanding teachers who have high expectations of their students but are able to motivate their students to do their work, to become lifelong learners & to value learning. We are so fortunate our daughter is taught by these 2 teachers every day. In addition, Hille Elwood of EVES does a wonderful job of teaching Spanish to our daughters. Boy, there are so many great EVES teachers, including Sarah Warner, who despite being pregnant works so hard to ensure our other daughter receives an excellent kindergarten education along with Sarah's teaching partner Kathy Dee, who takes time to email me about my concerns. Leeta Pena gets the kindergarteners excited to learn about Spanish. Trina Ehrenberg gets our kids excited about being strong and healthy...my list could go on and on. Thank you Eagle Valley Elementary School for all you do for our kids. Let's not forget the unsung heroes: the secretaries, janitors, school nurses: Carol McGee, Shirley Nolan, Dawn Rossi- you make our school run!

    October 19, 2010 at 1:14 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Piper Bayard

    Elmarine McClendon, junior high music teacher. She took in lots of stray cats like me and taught us self-respect and determination. She listened lovingly to all of our sob stories and had the same answer every time. "That's tough, Kid. Now what are you going to do about it?" A widow who had raised two kids while fighting against a world that called her "crippled" because polio left her with a brace and crutches, she knew everything about persevering. She even taught us some music along the way.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Pamela Barrow

    Mrs Caron LaBlanc from Dublin Elementary School, White Lake, MI gets a HUGE GOLD STAR from this parent. She is an amazing kindergarten teacher who started my son on a wonderful journey. After two years of pre-school he was not interested in learning the sounds that letters made, but after a few months with her his eyes were opened to a whole new world. He is thriving in 1st grade and can be heard quoting Mrs LaBlanc at home while doing homework. She will be the teacher that all future teachers will be compared too.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:22 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Guillermo A

    Penny McLeaish at Sharyland High School in Mission, TX. Mrs. McLeaish always provided and demanded excellence of her students. She will forever be a role model to me and an inspiration to always teach and mentor. RIP Ms. McLeaish. Honorable mention: Victor Arquijo, Sharyland HS-tough love; Meme Garza, St. Joseph's Academy-gentle mentor, ahead of his time; Father Jeff, St. Anthony's High School-a King among Deans of Men.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Wynter McBride

    Several of my own children's teachers at Clarke Central High School in Athens, GA should be awarded a Gold Star. Harry Cooper, Drew Wheeler, Buddy Sims, Dale Autry, Joy Sapp and Gwenn Turner (the last two also taught me over 20 years ago). These teachers are truly Stars. The passion they pour into their teaching shows in every student that they deal with. I can not praise these teachers enough.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Cheryl Doud

    I would like to thank all the teachers I had at Barlow Granger Elementary in Des Moines, Iowa. Because of their efforts, I went on to attain a double Bachelor of Science and a Masters in Business Administration. They made school and learning fun and went out of their way for the students. These teachers were at the school way before it opened and stayed late. In fact, as a high school student, I would stop by and visit and they still took an interest in what their previous students were doing. Over the years, I have kept the "hand made" awards that I received for various activities because those awards were the extra effort from teachers who truly cared and I knew even as a young student the teachers did not have to make them.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jill

      Hi Cheryl!
      I read that you attended Barlow Granger Elementary and so did I! I'm actually passing through Des Moines this weekend and tried to find the school to no avail. Did the school change names? ~Jill

      November 12, 2010 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Joanna Sanford

    The teachers, administrative & custodial staff at Stonehouse Elementary School in Williamsburg, VA are all excellent! The school is bright & cheerful with student artwork and murals; the students are challenged academically and are community-minded. The teachers work hard providing after school programs, study groups, "Rock the Test" and Battle of the Books that make the students want to be in school. Our music teachers, Mrs. LaRue & Mr. Collins, inspire the student with a variety of programs that are culturally and musically diverse.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jamie

      I agree with you!!!! My son had the wonderful opportunity of being in pre-k there for three years in a row. He got the best education there. Every school in the US should be like that!!!!!!!

      October 19, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Heather Johnson

    The most amazing teacher I had was Jon Gloer at Fayette County High School in 1998. His history class fostered an appreciation of this country, the people who have served in our military past and present and an overall greater understanding of the world around me. I appreciate him so much!

    October 19, 2010 at 1:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Patricia

    Marsha Mitchell (probably retired) was my 2nd and 3rd grade teacher at Valley Hi elementary in San Antonio, Tx. She was an amazing teacher and, for me, turned me on to my love of reading. She was amazing and I had the wonderful opportunity to let her know back in 2000.

    Melanie Watkins is one of my best friends and is an amazing teacher. She teaches me every day to be a better person through her optimism and wit.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Brian

    Why are private school teachers excluded from this? They work just as hard (if not harder) and their students are no less important. Many (if not most) work for salaries far less than the pay received by their union counterparts in public schools. In most cases, private schools do not get subsidies even though the parents pay taxes to support the public schools in their district, saving significant tax dollars for the benefit of the public schools. Many of the families are not rich, can barely make ends meet, and depend on scholarships. Being a teacher is truly a vocation, and the heroes are in both public and private schools.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • T Sindelman

      I don't think anyone doubts the amazing job done by private school teachers. The recent criticism, however, has been about public schools and public school teachers/employees. I think the focus on the positive aspects of the public school system is both overdue and a proactive shift in the discussion. I am a public school teacher myself and, though I don't need or feel I deserve a pat on the back, it's wonderful to hear that not everyone feels that we are the root cause of the difficulties plaguing education today.

      October 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jacquie Gilmore

    My children were lucky enough to have many wonderful teachers at Alma E. Pagels Elementary School in West Haven, CT – Mrs. Shaw in Kindergarten, Mrs. Lutskey in 1st Grade, Mrs. Matthews & Mrs. Vulgaris in 2nd Grade and Mr. Amato in 3rd grade However, last year my middle child had a team of 3 teachers that were OUTSTANDING! Mr. Don Funaro, Mr. Eric Glagowski and Mrs. Deb Dunleavy worked together to make 5th grade fun and interesting -my daughter enjoyed school more than ever and I am amazed at what she accomplished. She was excited to go to school every day and did not want school holidays to come. She would have gone to school every day if she could have. This group of educators went above and beyond in every area – I especially appreciated that they took the time to get to know the children in their care. They showed interest in what the children lives in every capacity, including outside of the academic arena. Mr. Funaro was my daughter's "homeroom" teacher and his level of commitment to his class amazed me. Every night at dinner we were entertained with a new "Mr. Funaro Said" story. I will forever be grateful to this group of teachers for what they bring to their classrooms. They are the example that all teachers should look to and I would say that any family that is fortunate enough work with them should thank their luck stars!

    October 19, 2010 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  14. George

    Why exclude the many excellent non-public teachers that do the same things at less than half the salary?

    October 19, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • dsashin

      Hi George, certainly, there are amazing non-public school teachers out there. We decided to spotlight public school teachers today since the challenge was tied to an article about two education documentaries about failing public schools.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • D.G.

      The article didn't say it couldn't be a private school or non-public school teacher. If you know a great teacher, regardless of the context, it is worth celebrating.

      October 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • skeller

      Hey George,
      It's "give a teacher a star" day, not bash on public school teacher's salaries. Did you have a teacher that inspired you? Who cares if it is public or private! Say something positive!

      October 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      The article said "Give a public shout out to a public school teacher who made a difference in your life." I trust George is in agreement with you that all great teachers should be recognized and that was his point.

      October 19, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • George


      Bash? Do you have a guilty conscience?

      October 19, 2010 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Michael Segal

    As a teacher at a public charter high school, I'm trying to do the best I can for the students I teach. I have a great model in Stuart Mackay, who was my 9th grade English teacher at Cleveland High in Reseda, CA, and who is now the principal of Granite Bay High School near Sacramento. He was the first teacher to approach me as an almost-adult and stretch my thinking past what I considered my breaking point. His style and persona made me feel welcome and appreciated as an individual in a class of 30. I can't thank him enough for making reading fun and making me try harder than I had ever tried before.

    October 19, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
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