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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  1. Krystle

    Dr. Charles Hadley, public instructor at the University of New Orleans. He was a true example of going above and beyond the call of duty in a field of hundreds of students. He would call me in his office at the end of each week to ask me what I'd learned that week that I didn't know. He always pushed me to go further than my best. And when I got gravely ill and doctors and family encouraged me to sit out the semester, he showed up at the hospital with the syllabi for each and every class I had registered for and kept me up to speed until I got out of the hospital. He did what so many teachers like him never get credit for–he made an investment in helping me succeed–and because he decided that going the extra mile was worth it, I went the extra mile, too–and graduated on time. We need more teachers like him.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Tracy W

    The best teacher ever was Miss Barbara Doctor, a 2nd grade teacher at Wilson School in Rockville Centre, New York.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Sarah

    Mr. DeGraziano was my 6th grade Science teacher at Deer Park Middle School. He is the BEST teacher I have ever had (I am now in graduate school). I wish he could be cloned so my kids could learn from him too. He inspired kids to be inquisitive about anything. My mom still says, "Mr. D gave you your voice."
    He drilled the scientific method into our brains. He was open for questions at any time about anything, his door was always open. He was (and is) kind, energizing, uplifting and wouldn't put up with any shenanigans. There were no excuses for not getting homework in on time. There was no yawning in class or putting your head in your hands, it just wasn't allowed, also he made the class so exciting it was the last thing you'd ever do anyway.
    He has since retired but a few years ago I found him online. I still keep in touch with Mr. D, and I couldn't ask for a better mentor in life.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Melissa

    Wendy Waterman at Parker Elementary School is the best teacher I have ever come across. Not only does she teach, she tried to put herself in parents shoes to get the support they need for there child. She has done a lot for my son and she deserves everything she gets. I couldn't have asked for a better teacher for my son this year. She has real compassion for others. She goes well beyond being a teacher and I wish I could get the biggest trophy for her cause she deserves it all. 🙂

    October 19, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  5. T Sindelman

    My third grade teacher, Mrs. Gayle Link, is the reason I am a teacher today. She passed away when I was in the fourth grade, but her legacy is one I try to keep alive in my own classroom on a daily basis. She taught at Fairplay Elementary School in Corvallis, OR (the school is no longer open), and her generosity, selflessness, spirit, and joy for life and teaching have forever changed my life. I think I was too young to realize it at the time – and probably never thanked her – but Mrs. Link taught me so much more than the public school curriculum. It was through her that I learned about "teachable moments," about the opportunity to pass on life lessons, a love for learning, and tools that extend so far beyond the classroom walls. I have missed her every day since she died, but I hope she is sitting at a desk in the back of my room smiling her inimitable smile...and seeing a little bit of herself in me.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Buffy Bowe

    Mr. John Fleming from St. Ignatius, MT!!! He was my 5th grade reading and social studies teacher back during the 1988-1989 school year. He is the reason I am a history teacher today! He had an amazing way of encouraging his students to get interested in current events. Because of him, I actually paid attention to the 1988 Presidential Election and knew what was going on (as a 5th grader)! He was also the first teacher and only of the few that I had who actually took interest in what we thought as students! He really encouraged us to think for ourselves and develop our own views and opinions on things. WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL teacher and still educating students on the Flathead Reservation today!

    October 19, 2010 at 4:28 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Cleopaktra

    The nice comments brought a couple of happy tears to my eyes. I taught, for several years, at high school level. I never worked at any other position anywhere except being a teacher. This year though my job responsibilities changed from being a classroom teacher to being a program coordinator. In these past few months I realized that teachers do amazing things. I had nothing to compare with before but now I can tell you that all those years that I taught I was happily helping the students out and doing my bit but only now I realize how stressful a teaching job can be. So my shout out is to ALL the teachers that inspire and touch so many lives on daily basis. Hats off to all the teachers.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. K's Mom

    Mr. John Patterson at Hawthorne Elementary in Wheaton, IL. He is now the Principal, but has been an educator his entire career. This man knows and cares about all of his students, often going above and beyond to make sure that they get the education they need – both in and out of school. When a child or family is in need / crisis, he is always there. When a child does something great, he's there. When someone needs a little extra push, he's there. We have a lot of "at risk" students and families, and John strives every day to minimize the potential for these kids to fall off. His students love and respect him, as do all of the parents, faculty and community.

    October 19, 2010 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Cara

    Mrs. Marilyn Loebs–Kindergarten teacher in Los Angeles, CA. Mrs. Loebs teaches these kids how to read! She takes so much pride in her job and truly enjoys teaching these children how to read and write. She is an inspiration and a hero!

    October 19, 2010 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Lakeville MN Mom

    Chris Markham, Mr. Ficklin, Brandi Hansmeyer and the science team at Kenwood Trail Middle School, for dedicating so many after-school hours and consistent support for the 6th 7th and 8th graders that participate in Science Olympiad. This is a special team – I can't separate one from the other, and we are so lucky to have such talented and dedicated individuals working with our kids. Thank you all for the countless hours and dedication – the result is a great group of kids that go on to high school better equipped and more excited about pursuing sciences.

    October 19, 2010 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |

    MRS.LYNN SALO OF JOE K. BRYANT and MRS. SELENA CAVE OF SUE E. RATTAN elem. schools located in ANNA, TEXAS .Mrs. Salo was my daughters Kindergarten and Mrs. Cave my daughters second grade teacher. With just having moved to the area, we had new schools, twice in a row with these two teachers who were friends. Mrs. Salo was so hands on you cound just see how much she loved boing with the kids and how interesting her classroom was. She had a TON of books and things posted all around the room. We really fell in love with her personality and appreciated how kind she was to my daughter and our family. Mrs. Cave was AMAZING. She had this genuine spark in her soul you could just see how much she lovd teaching. As if it was effortless and It was for her. She had this " CAVE in the front of her classroom that you could go a sit a read quietly with pillows and a tiny light. She had bears around the room aswell as the learning posters. When my daughter got sick and was admitted to Children's in Dallas they both came to visit her. It made me cry. I was the mother and I as well as my daughter will never forget those two teachers. We have kept every piece of homework and class project from every teacher to date. These two ANNA, TEXAS teachers will always hold a sweet spot in my heart. Thank You for all you do. Teachers should be paid better then our atheletes.......

    October 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Virginia

    Ms. Hight is a special eduation teacher who has worked in the field her whole career. Her specialty is teaching reading to childern with learning disabilities using scientifically-validated methods (The US National Reading Panel). She cares deeply about children and especially those with learning challlenges. She was recently fired by the her principal in Durham NC as a result of the notion that low performing schools can be improved by firing teachers. (She has a doctorate in education and is older than most teachers but not ready to retire because she has so much good she can do.) The idea that firing teachers will improve schools and then setting quotas for principals is ridiculous. Shout out to Ms. Hight and all teachers who have been fired when they have years of successful experience.

    October 19, 2010 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kirstie Martin Knighton

    I would like to give a shout-out to Milton Caffey and Senora Rosalyn Groves from Eastman, GA (Dodge County High School). Coach Caffey taught me U. S. History and Senora Groves taught me Spanish I around 1988. I'll never forget that I dreaded taking Coach Caffey's class because coaches did not have a good reputation as teachers at my school. However, I learned SO much from him, and I thoroughly enjoyed his lectures. Senora Groves was the first teacher who had ever taken a personal interest in me. I hated that she retired at the end of the year and that I wouldn't be able to have her for Spanish II. She invited me to her house for homemade peach ice cream and oatmeal cookies. Every time I have a peach milkshake from Chick-fil-A, I think of Senora Groves.

    I am now a teacher myself at the high school in Gray, GA. I try to remember how these two great teachers made me feel, and I want all of my students to leave my room feeling as good about themselves as these two made me feel. Some co-workers I'd like to praise include Mrs. Peggy Stevens, a now retired social studies teacher, who took me under her wing my first two years and Mrs. Cameron Tibbetts. Cameron and I only taught together one year on the same campus, but we had the best collaborative experience that I have had. She is very innovative and forward thinking in her teaching. These are just two of many whom I have the pleasure to work with for going on 16 years now. Thank you, CNN, for allowing me the opportunity to publicly thank these teachers, especially the ones I had so many years ago.

    October 19, 2010 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Cranberry

    My mother, Elizabeth Andrews, 1938 – 2008, a 29-year veteran of the DeKalb County, GA Board of Education. You will never meet anyone else more dedicated to the betterment of the children in their district. Her work was about the children, not about power, or money, or greed, or position. She considered her position a calling, not a job; it was part of her stewardship commitment to God. RIP Mom.

    October 19, 2010 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Emily

    Mary Ellen Miller (Mrs. Miller to me until recently) is the most enlightening and inspiring teacher I have known. I haven't been her student for over a decade, but she inspired me not only to appreciate literature, but to find my passions in life. She motivated me in school, and her wisdom is still with me as a young professional. Thanks Mrs. Miller, for inspiring generations of students!!!

    October 19, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
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