On December 30, 2014, I read an editorial in the Gazette entitled “Emporia is a Very Generous Community”. To quote Brandy Nance, “The generosity here in Emporia is an integral part of the fabric that makes up Emporia and the area.” This statement is so true when I think about what Emporia has done for The National Teachers Hall of Fame. We are getting ready to celebrate our 24th induction ceremony, and 5 teachers from across the United States will be chosen to participate as our newest inductees. We would not be in existence had it not been for this great community. Founding organizations back in 1989 were The City of Emporia, Emporia State University, The Chamber of Commerce, and USD 253; and each of these organizations is still an integral part of the Hall of Fame.
Honoring teachers is not a new concept. Before the Hall of Fame began, there were awards given to teachers such as: Disney Awards , The Millken Awards, Internet Innovators Awards, State Teacher of the Year Awards, and The Fulbright Distinguished Award .
What sets the Hall of Fame apart from these awards is that we honor teachers who have dedicated their lives to education, with 20 years of full-time teaching being a requirement for nomination.
We have all had teachers who have impacted our lives in one way or another. I remember Mr. Plank who was my 5th grade teacher at William Allen White School here in Emporia. I remember him teaching me something, I remember him being very respectful, I remember him having different ways to teach us, and I remember he was just a darn good teacher. I have been blessed to have received my entire public school education right here in Emporia and to have had many wonderful teachers. There was Mr. Collier, yikes he was kind of scary but a he sure knew his social studies, There was Mr. Nelson a great science teacher, There was Mrs. Jacquith my English teacher, and the famous Mr. Bloxom who was a huge humorist. When 18 wheeler trucks would go by on west 6th right by the school, he would say, there goes another EHS graduate. Then there was Mrs. Hendriks, the music teacher. So many memories have come from that class. It’s just recently after the Christmas holidays that I have reminisced back to my time in Mrs. Hendricks chorale, the Christmas Program, the performances made throughout the community and the trips to state music competitions. I will treasure forever what these teachers have given me.
At the Hall of Fame, we are getting ready to make our selection. A group of 15 people from across the nation will be flying to Kansas City to discuss and choose our 5 inductees. Those on the committee represent national education organizations as well as several of our corporate partners. They will spend the better part of one day watching videos, collaborating and trying to narrow 20 great teachers down to 5. Announcement day will be in March and then these 5 selected teachers will converge on Emporia in June to be honored for what they do with America’s school children. So many of the new inductees have praised our wonderful town of Emporia, they love being here, they love the experiences they have had here and they feel honored. From the band concert in the park to the friendly greetings and banners downtown to the gala banquet on Friday night, these inductees are made to feel like royalty. Thank you, Emporia, for helping support the National Teachers Hall of Fame. Emporia is truly “Teacher Town, USA” in the heart of America, and you capture the hearts of these educators who represent all that is great in American education.
And… how recently have you thanked a teacher? It’s something to think about……