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. Yvette Bodwin

    My son is in the 5th grade and he has only had a handfew who cared about him and who loved teaching. Ms. Cheryl Steward Pleasantville Elem, Hou.,TX; Ms. Renee Canizaro Parker Elem., Hou.,TX; and Ms. Jacqueline Rylander and Gregory Kabay Parker Elem., Hou.,TX. Oh yea his music teachers Ms. Kristen Nelson; Mr Lloyd Hughes, and Al Campbell all of Parker Elem., Hou., TX.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Phil

    Sherry Wilmot at Irwin County Elementary in Ocilla, Georgia deserves a gold star for her excellence in teaching. When our son was in Kingdergarten she went far above and beyond her obligations to make sure he was being challenged and learning. Her love of children and passion to engage the kids in learning in creative ways is awesome. We need more teachers like Sherry Wilmot.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Laura

    I know it says to nominate a teacher I've had, but I want to nominate my mother, Jane Conter. She has been teaching Kindergarten for 15 years in Glastonbury, CT after leaving a lucrative profession in business. She loves her kids and enjoys watching their personalities grow and develop. She has a great understanding of what kids need and endless patience and support. She prepares her kids very well for first grade and also teaches them the essential lessons needed to make a great person (sharing, listening, respecting others, and communicating effectively). I love to visit her classrooms occasionally and I can't help but be proud of what she does. I think she is a very valuable asset to teaching. While she is a great teacher in the classroom, she is also a great advocate outside of the classroom. She is not afraid to stand up to the powers that be and argue for what is right. She will always stick her neck out to make sure both teachers and students are getting what they need. I think that really makes a gold star teacher.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. samsteve

    Mr. Fredrickson from Grimsley High School in Greensboro, NC. He taught us each day that the world was much bigger than just us. His excitement and enthusiasm was a blessing bestowed among each of us in his classes. We were better for having learned from him and from knowing him.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kim

    It's one thing to remember a specific lesson days or months later, but almost 3 decades? Thanks to Mr. Damewood and Mr. Patterson in 1982-1983, I can still recount the chain of events that started WWI. Mr. Damewood and Mr. Patterson of Vines High School in Plano Texas acted out the entire assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Their history class was filled with humor, mystery and drama. They also acted out the story of Rasputin and Napoleon. Students can't learn if they are not interested and these guys got it. I also recall Mr. Damewood leading us in a chorus of God Bless America but changed it to "Mesopotamia - land that I love.. stand beside her and guide her.." Just as we were singing, the principal, Mr. Doyle Walker jerked open the door, ran up to Mr. Damewood and joined the song! It was one of the most memorable moments I had in school. I learned anything can be taught, it's all in how you present it. I was 16 at the time and even now at 43, those memories are still ingrained in my memory. I went on to a college degree and several other certifications and licenses because I like to learn. I think they had a big part in my realization of that.....

    October 19, 2010 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  6. ckane

    Mrs. Debbie Wnek is a prime example of what dedication a teacher can have. She has worked for the Greater Latrobe School District for 35 years teaching 1st grade – just retiring last month (grandchild on the way). You would think with all the changes and new standards, a teacher might be burned out – but she never!! Even last winter, when my daughter had her – she was beside herself that the kids were missing so much school due to record snow – and that the progress they had made in reading might not keep moving forward as she wanted the kids to! She misses teaching every day – and comes into the school often to see the kids. We have others in the district like that – and we moved OUT of CA when my oldest became school age b/c we wanted a great district and great teachers, and we found it here in the Greater Latrobe District in Western PA

    October 19, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Paige Cruz

    Mr. Pozo-Lin, 2nd grade teacher at Kings Park Elementary in Springfield, VA. My daughter was taught by him last year. He had such a gentle spirit, and the children loved him. He stands out for his willingness to continue the childrens learning through the summer months. He invited everyone from the class to meet at the local public library a few times. They read, wrote, and did a few small art activities! In all of my experience, I have never had a teacher reach out during their "off" time to help our children thrive. He should be commended for his selflessness, going above and beyond, and leading by example! I am grateful she was able to experience his commitment to our young people.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Ruth Hansen

    I'd like to give a gold star to Jolene Baxman of Liberty Elementary School in Petaluma, California. She teaches first grade and has taught all three of my daughters how to read. She makes the classroom a fun place, calls parents on weekends just to share a positive story about their child, teaches the children how to get along and appreciate each other, laughs in class until she snorts (self-admitted), volunteers for school events and fundraisers, comes in to work on weekends, tutors after school, makes the children feel safe and does an outstanding job of teaching them and they all have fun learning! She goes above and beyond every year! Thank you Mrs. Baxman!

    October 19, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Neal

    Mr. House, Mr. Vaughn, and Mr. Rodgers were awesome teachers that I had as a student. They were the ones who inspired me to become a teacher. I have constantly tried to build on what they taught me and pass it on to the next generation. I would like to take this moment to thank them for all of their hard work and dedication to the field of education.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Angelic Ramos

    I would like to extend my thanks to Mrs. Shirley Weaver, (my 4th and 5th grade teacher at Riverside Elementary School in Grand Rapids, MI), and Mr. David Lyons (my 12th grade AP English teacher at Creston High School in Grand Rapids, MI).

    Mrs. Weaver expected each student to give no less than 110% each and every day-and she did not hesitate to set us back on the right path if we strayed from our primary purpose-learning and striving for excellence. I can vividly recall the day she caught me reading my own book during class-something I never did again! I still have the fourth grade Black History Month project I made in her class. It was always clear that she cared about each individual student she had; she still remembered me when I invited her to my high school graduation.

    Mr. Lyons was, and still is, a legend at Creston High School. He knew, and still knows, his students, their families, and friends. Creston was a bit of a rough school, but every student in the school knew and respected him, whether they had him in class or not. He modeled the importance of unabashedly being yourself and exceeding your own potential. He spent hours after school, helping shape me into a mature and thoughtful writer. From him I learned to stop writing in passive voice, how to support my position with evidence from a text, and how to craft an academically sound interpretation of a literary piece. Mr. Lyons truly cared about each student, and knew the impact he made on each and every life he touched. He was and is my inspiration to be a teacher-I try every day to live up to his example.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. JJ Velasquez

    A fifth grade teachers that doesn't know Spanish and an recent immigrant kid that doesn't know English sounds like a recipe for disaster. Such was my situation when I entered Mr. Pangle's classroom at Mains Elementary in Calexico, California. I was timid and perhaps even afraid. But Mr. Pangle knew one thing more important than language, he knew how to connect with students and address their needs. He saw our strengths and potential when others might have seen our limitations. Immigrating can be a traumatic experience for a child, but it can also be an opportunity for growth. Mr. Pangle recognized my strengths and recommended me for gifted education later that year. At a time in which I could have had doubts, he gave me hope. I have seized on my opportunities ever since, I went on to become an aerospace engineer and teach high school physics. Like Mr. Pangle, I choose to see potential in students too instead of limitations.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Kim S.

    Radcliffe School, New Jersey – Miss Tangoro (1st grade); Mrs. Honor James (2nd grade); Miss Piro (3rd grade); Miss Glascow (5th grade) – all long retired but they inspired me to be a teacher myself – and I have been in a public HS for 16 years now.
    Also – Miss Credico & Mrs. Ferlauto – Jefferson Elementary School, New Jersey. They are my child's teachers and are teaching her the love of learning!

    October 19, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Elizabeth

    Ms. Janet Whitfield, who taught at Jackson Park Elementary School in Kannapolis, NC taught me just how difficult it could be to continue to challenge oneself. Early to start in the "academically gifted" classes, she showed compassion and interest in me and all of her other students. When a question was asked, she would answer it. If she did not know the answer, she was honest. She supported me (and my brother) as students who were striving for more than Kannapolis' public school system could provide us. Ms. Whitfield never scorned or mistreated any of her coworkers or students, and even gave her free time up to host get-togethers for her students. She is retired now, unfortunately, but when I graduated from high school, I received a card from her with congratulations, but a note to continue to strive for more. Kannapolis' public school system has missed out on its best teachers– one who put education at the forefront of all matters and emphasized her students' abilities to push themselves to succeed. Today, I contribute much of my success and my own desire to teach to Ms. Whitfield. She is truly a legacy in her own time.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Elizabeth

      Please keep the family of Janet Whitfield in your thoughts and prayers as she just passed unexpectedly.

      We will miss you, but your legacy lives on.

      October 20, 2010 at 10:54 am | Report abuse |
  14. yummy

    Wonderful comments. As a new teacher, it's good to think that maybe I will be able to impact a student enough for them to thank me one day 🙂

    October 19, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Dave Anderson

    My wife Jude Anderson is a rock star! She's teaches special education at Summit View Elementary school in Independence, KY. She tirelessly works on new teaching methods, spends countless hours at home developing custom lesson plans that will help her students. Most importanly she loves her work..loves her students, and loves her school. Teaching is a partnership between the parents, the administation, and the teacher. I'm lucky enough to have read some of the notes she's received from parents over the years. Thanking her for dedication, love, and support. Teachers don't ask a lot...but maybe a thank you occassionaly would be nice. THANK YOU HONEY, and nice work Summit View.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
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