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
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  1. Jay and Michelle Rusk

    Jim McMahon, a 3rd grade teacher at Navarrete Elementary School in Chandler, Arizona is an amazing teacher. He has a true gift for connecting with each of the children and inspiring them to reach their highest potential. He is a very innovative teacher. For example, when teaching the children about rocks, they created a "Rock" Video. He makes learning a fun adventure that the kids want to participate in. As a parent it makes me very happy to have my daughter come home excited to share what she has learned that day. We are thankful for his passion and his dedication and the impact he is making on our daughter’s future.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Paul

    Deborah Urbon// 1st Grade Teacher Tavares Elementary School, FL. She inspires young kids year after year, she is the most dedicated teacher in the world. She stops at nothing for her students, makes 1st grade so great, they don't want to leave. She puts all she has into her profession every day! She spends nights and weekends unpaid, to make sure they learn everything they need to, and more. She could do many other things with her Masters Degree, and make double, triple what she is making, but she feels it is her reason for being, to help and teach Children. With more teachers like Debbie, the schools would be in a better state. She is a credit and an asset to her school, state and country!

    October 19, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Susan W.

    Mr. David Willson, Mississippi. Mr. Willson was my high school band director at Clinton High in Clinton, Mississippi. He is now Director of Bands at University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) and is celebrating 20 years there. He instilled a love of music and making music that sounds very good – MUSICIANSHIP. He also instilled the desire to get along with others and to have a community. I am teaching elementary music at Pisgah Elem. in Mississippi and have been teaching for 13 years and going strong. Thank you, Mr. David Willson!

    October 19, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Shannon

    Steven McCullough is a GREAT teacher who is the 8th Grade Social Studies teacher at North Middle school in Radcliff, KY. He taught one year at a 'better' school in the district but wanted to move to this school because he knew that it is where he was truly needed and where he felt that he could help the kids who needed it the most. The reason he is such a great teacher is because he constantly works to reach them on a personal level. The students relate to him and respect him for being so real with them. He not only wants to educate them, he wants to reveal to each of them their inner potential. Students remain in contact with him when they move on to high school. They know that he will always be there for advice or for help when it is needed. He usually even tries to call each and every one of his students at the end of the summer to wish them luck on their first day of high school. The students truly are the most important thing to him.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jessica M

    There are a few teachers who have touched my life or my childrens.. I am forever grateful for them !!
    Mrs. Sue Stewart (William Bruce Elem. Eaton OH) Mr. Steve Johnson ( Eaton Middle School Eaton OH) And Mrs. Dori Spence (P.A.S.S. West Alex OH)

    They have taught me and my Children that if you try your best, and put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything. For as long as i can remember they have always treated every student in the class with respect and showed they truly cared for them. They have went above and beyond to do what is right for the students and stuck up for them when no one else would. And no matter how bad it got they never gave up or walked away. For that, I thank them and i will never be able to tell them how much they truely matter to me and all the other peoples lives they have touched !!!! =)

    October 19, 2010 at 2:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jessica M

      Mrs. Sue Stewart is now retired. She was a 5th grade Teacher. Mr. Steve Johnson is a Math Teacher for 6th and 7th grades and Mrs. Dori Spence teaches kids of all ages =)

      October 19, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Ron Nelson

    Ever heard of 40 teenagers voluntarily rising an hour early and then going to school for a strenuous vocal and physical workout? How about the teacher raising the bar with more intense exercise and singing to weed out those not committed and not having a single one leave? Darren McCoy is nothing less than phenomenal in imparting passion for music into the high school students at Oak Harbor High School, Oak Harbor, WA. The 40 students in his "0" period 'show choir' class show the proof in their before school, after school and weekend commitment to their teacher and music. The love he has for the students and music is a blessing to the school, community and development of the students.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Raymond Franz

    Mr. Bob Prutsman was my 6th grade teacher, but he was more than that. He was a true inspiration. He was a theater enthusiast and incorporated dramatic arts in every aspect of teaching. Mr. Prutsman was well known for producing a spring melodrama in our district which his students wrote and starred in. He was firm and expected nothing but greatness from all of his students. Many of his students today have a close bond with one another because of his committment and dedication. It is because of him I became a teacher. I also want to recognize a fellow colleague Mary Maxwell who is a special education teacher and would like to recognize all special education teachers. Mary arrives well before anyone on our site and leaves way after. Mary always has a smile on her face and goes out of her way for her students. She is a true hero in my eyes.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Tricia

    Ms. Lorraine Bouchard, who taught 6th grade at Birch Hill Elementary School in Nashua, NH. She nurtured my love of reading and writing and always challenged me to do even better. I'm 42 years old now, and am an Elementary school Assistant Principal. I try to instill that same passion and sense of challenge in my current students and staff now. Ms. Bouchard lives on in the work that I do. I wish I could thank her.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Connie

    Katie Murphy is a young teacher at Gilbert Elementary in Gilbert, Arizona. She teaches autistic children in kindergarten. Each year, her class gets bigger, while her hours and budget diminish. None-the-less, Katie spends her own money and her own time to make sure that the children in her class get the best she and her aids can provide. Her work ethic, dedication, and passion is truly inspiring. Like most special ed teachers, I don't think she knows how special she is or how much her efforts mean to so many people. Katie Murphy is truly a hero.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Chasidy Miroff

    I would like to nominate Mrs. Sheila Hocutt-Remington from Brookwood High School in Brookwood, Alabama. Mrs. Hocutt teaches 12th grade Government/Economics, and she has been an excellent educator for more than thirty years. She was my teacher in 1993, and she brought excitement, creativity, enthusiasm, and a love of learning to the classroom. Today, I am an 8th grade World History teacher at Brookwood Middle School. When I teach about today's global society, I am often reminded of the incredible teaching methods Mrs. Hocutt used to help us learn about the world.

    As a teacher, it can be very discouraging to see how teachers are often portrayed in the media. We have much to learn from teachers. I have visited over twenty schools on five different continents, and have studied the curriculum standards of nations around the world. The United States is often compared to other countries, regarding standardized test scores. This is not comparing apples to apples. There is not a single country on this planet that attempts what our country does for education. We educate and test EVERYONE, regardless of special needs, socioeconomic status, language proficiency, or citizenship. Is our education system perfect? Of course not. Do we need to continuously search for ways to improve our abilities to help students become productive members of a global society? Absolutely. Teachers want what is best for our students. We will try any professional development method to help our students. However, our education system in the United States should not be sold to the highest bidder. We do not need a "non-profit" czar of education funding more standardized tests that are unpiloted experiments. We need voices of teachers like Mrs. Hocutt, who always reminds us to stay actively involved in learning.

    October 19, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Izzy's Mom

    My daughter attends the public school in Cusseta, GA; I little town south of Columbus. Her Pre-K teacher, Mrs. Powell, was wonderful, she kept my child focused and wanting to learn more. My daughter called her, "her school mommy", you knew that any child in that classroom would be treated like she wanted her children treated. It was sad leaving Mrs. Powell's classroom to enter K-5. Mrs. Powell helped the children with leaving by explaining how much fun they would have in K-5.
    They new school year is under way and we have been blessed again with a great teacher, Mrs. Idrell. My daughter loves going to school and cried when she had to stay home because she was sick.
    Both Mrs. Powell and Mrs. Idrell are wonderful teachers who need a gold star!!!

    October 19, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tonya Austin


    I am giving a GOLD STAR to Laura McConnell of Walnut Grove Elementary School in Franklin Tennessee.
    My son Steven had a very bad and sad experience with his Kindergarten teacher who was very disconnected from her students and was a very poor teacher because of this.
    FAST FORWAR TO FIRST GRADE: I was scared to death of him getting another teacher like her. On the first day of school I looked at the different teachers as they walked to their rooms, wondering, "is she the one", "maybe her" "'she doesn't look so nice", Then we walked into his room and I stood before Mrs. Laura McConnell and I saw a smile that was filled with joy and eyes that gave me peace, and were eyes of love, contentment, genuineness, compassion and I knew that these were the eyes and smile that my son would see everyday he will spend with one of the best teachers we have had for any of our 4 children.
    She lights up the room when she walks in it and one day when Steven came home from school in the beginning of the year. He said to me that "Mrs. McConnell let me hug her today, and she hugged me back" My son spends his days away from me each day with a women who loves him and loves all of her students. He is happy and learning at lightening speed as she is a wonderful teacher. It is amazing to me how she has worked her curriculum to get the best out of each child and makes sure that all children, whatever level they are at are learning what she is teaching and she does it out passion and compassion.
    " I have always known I would be a teacher. As a child, I had my own classroom set up in my basement. I never imagined doing anything else! My mother was a teacher so I had a great role model!"
    THE STAFF SAYS: "Mrs. McConnell exemplifies the best our profession has to offer and we are most fortunate to count her as a member of the Walnut Grove Faculty."


    October 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Peter D

    There are a lot of great teachers out there that are getting daily dissed by the system, politicos and the profit-off-the-backs- of-kids testing industry. There's going to be a million teacher march on DC and I'm sure the teacher organizers would love parents and students join in to take back schools and steer them back toward learning. Google Jesse Turner, a great educator who recently completed a walk to DC to learn more about the march and how you can join in.

    October 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. George King

    My father was a high school teacher – he retired from teaching last year at age 76. He touched many lives in a wonderful way. I've been a high school teacher in Colorado for 15 years, and my kids are getting my very best, and they thank me for it. For all the hard working teachers everywhere, continue to believe in what helps to nuture good young people. It's a lot more than a test score!

    October 19, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve Bender

    My fiance happens to be a public school teacher in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. She teaches elementary children with autism. The dedication that teachers put forth is amazing, she comes home and does work until she goes to bed. She also volunteers in an after school program for children with autism and helps them learn the game of soccer. It is even rewarding for me (her as well, obviously!) to hear her speak to the parents of her students and tell her how impressed they are with the positive steps their child is taking at home. She was recently awarded "Rookie of the Year" for the Bucks County Intermediate Unit and think she deserves a gold star as well! Thank you to all the teachers out there.

    October 19, 2010 at 3:05 pm | Report abuse |
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