An elementary school teacher in Texas has been named the first Black man to be awarded the title of Texas Teacher of the Year. In speaking with the Washington Post on Wednesday, Eric Hale says that while he’s honored, he shouldn’t have been the first one in his state to receive the distinction.
“I’m the first to win it, but I’m not the first to deserve it,” he told the newspaper. “I am a teacher because I’m chasing the ghost of the educator I needed as a child. My mission is to make sure that children that are going through poverty and traumatic experiences get the hope they need.”
Hale teaches kindergarten and first grade at David G. Burnet Elementary School in Dallas and received the news he won the 2021 edition of the honor during a virtual Zoom ceremony last month.
According to the Texas Association of School Administrators, the distinction has been given to excellent educators within the state since 1969.
Sonia Loskot is Hale’s boss and principal and says his students regularly perform higher than state standards and their parents love him.
“His kids always outperform in academics, and the parents are always thankful,” Loskot told the Post. “He tells the kids they are champions, and they really believe it.”
Hale is set to receive a cash award and trophy for the distinction. He’ll also go on to represent the state of Texas in the national Teacher of the Year competition.