Appreciate a teacher today

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day, the 2011 teachers of the year were invited to a reception in the White House Rose Garden. President thanked them for their service and remembered his fifth-grade teacher, Mabel Hefty, who helped him adjust to school in Hawaii after several years in Indonesia.

Michelle Shearer, an AP chemistry teacher at Urbana High in Maryland, is the 2011 national teacher of the year.  A teacher for 14 years, she previously taught chemistry and math at the Maryland School for the Deaf. Shearer earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry at Princeton.

On her application, she writes that “chemistry is for everyone,” not just college-bound students or high school students.

The teaching of chemistry can begin in a preschool classroom with household materials, as young students marvel at the bubbles, color changes, and visual “magic” inherent to chemistry. High school students demand to know, “What does this have to do with me?” I display a collection of random household items (sunscreen, laundry detergent, motor oil, shampoo, etc.) across the tops of cabinets as a constant reminder to my students of the practical role chemistry plays in their lives.

My favorite teacher was Mr. Parker in fourth grade, but I also remember Miss Anderson, who taught Great Books in high school. Come to think of it, my chemistry teacher, Mr. Carmichael was excellent too.

From cop to teacher

The Teacher of the Year for 2009, Anthony Mullen, spent 21 years as a New York City police officer before starting a second career as a special education teacher working with the kind of would-be tough kids he once arrested. He hopes to focus on lowering the dropout rate by encouraging options. Teacher Magazine has a great interview with Mullen, who’s focusing on dropout prevention.

It’s important that every student gets an academic background, but we’ve lost vocational education. Most of our high schools are geared towards getting students into college. And yet we have this population of students—millions of students, literally—who want to do what our ancestors have done for thousands of years: They want to work with their hands. They don’t want to sit in a desk all day. They want to build, they want to create, they want to design. And we’re losing that because we’re so concerned that they take the extra science, the extra math, the extra history and all these things to go to college when all these vocational opportunities are passing them by.

Speaking of cops in the classroom, Los Angeles is seeing high graduation rates at its police-affiliated magnet schools, reports City Journal. Most students come from low-income Hispanic families.

Discipline is strict, a communal priority. Reseda organizes cadets into squads of five to eight, each supervised by a student leader. The leaders make sure that their cadets get their work done, keep their grades up, behave in class, and dress neatly.

So far, few graduates have gone on to become police officers, perhaps because there’s a three- to four-year gap between high school and eligibility to join the force.

Teacher of Year nominee laid off

Nominated for New Hampshire’s Teacher of the Year, Hampton Academy teacher Christina Hamilton received a layoff notice — by cell phone — the same week.  Kevin Fleming, grievance chairman of the teachers union, tells the Portsmouth Herald, “Even though she is recognized as a candidate for Teacher of the Year, they have to go on seniority.” Hampton has taught eighth-grade social studies.

Via EIA Online.