The 2019 National Teachers Hall of Fame organization has celebrated amazing teachers the entire week. Leading up to the induction ceremony was a shark teeth project, trivia night, Talk of Emporia, roundtable, formal welcome dinner, documentary, Children’s Concert by the Emporia Municipal Band and rededication of the National Memorial to Fallen Educators, followed by a banquet.

The 28th-annual induction ceremony took place Friday night in Webb Hall of Emporia State University’s Memorial Union.

WIBW Anchor Ralph Hipp was the Master of Ceremonies, welcoming everyone to celebrate teachers in the United States of America and around the world.

“Nothing would happen in this country without teachers,” Hipp said. He spoke of the teachers that were significant to him and why teachers continue to be significant, particularly in the lives of children.

ESU Provost David Cordle shared his perspective on how the whole week of National Teachers Hall of Fame celebration aligns with the university’s mission to prepare “students for lifelong learning, rewarding careers and adaptive leadership.”

“Great teachers have the ability to change lives like no one else does,” he said. “With these five inductees, we are celebrating the best of the best. But, the great thing about it is, they represent what teachers are doing in their classrooms every single day, all over the country.”

National Teachers Hall of Fame inductees this year include high school math teacher Mary Jo Murray (Florida), technology and innovation teacher Dyane Smokorowski (Kansas), fourth-grade teacher Christopher Albrecht (New York), career and technical education teacher Richard Knoeppel (Nevada) and social studies teacher David Bosso (Connecticut).

Although inductees, their families and other attendees gathered from around the country, Kansas Commissioner of Education Randy Watson ventured to make everyone feel like they were right at home in Emporia.

“You are now part of our family,” Watson said.

Inductees were paired with a host family for the week, delving into the local Emporia culture firsthand. The welcoming reach of the National Teachers Hall of Fame does not cease at teachers; National Education Association Education Support Professional Matthew Powell was recognized for his dedication to his school, too.

“I absolutely love working as an ESP,” he said. “What very few people know is that I actually aspire to be a teacher. However, after graduating college, I learned that my classroom is not confined by four walls and 30 desks. I have the best of all worlds, because my classroom is now on the school bus … in the cafeteria, outside of the coy pond and other places around my school. I strive to promote learning and excitement in all that I do.”

Powell also works as a mentor for at-risk students in his community.

Another person affected by the National Teachers Hall of Fame is venture capitalist Ted Dintersmith.

Dintersmith and his wife saw the sign for the National Teachers Hall of Fame and decided they should stop by and see what the museum was all about. Being a leading advocate of student-centered, teacher-led classrooms, he was fueled by the passion the National Teachers Hall of Fame organization has for this country’s teachers.

One of the gifts to the inductees was a copy of Dintersmith’s book “What School Could Be: Insights and Inspiration from Teachers Across America.”

“All that I thought about teachers before (speaking with teachers) was empty and hollow, compared to the reality,” Dintersmith said. “Our teachers in this country do not have jobs; they have passion-filled missions. They don’t teach students; they treat these children as if they were their own.”

The inductees each shared videos of what teaching means to them. The videos included segments of what their students and student teachers who have worked with them had to say about how these teachers have impacted their lives.

Following each video was the inductee’s response to their educational values and practices.

“It is essential that we get students to believe in themselves,” Albrecht said. “This starts with an acknowledgement that every student has gifts and talents. Every one of them. More than ever, we as educators need to devote ourselves to making strong relationships with our students, and not just know them simply as students in our class but as citizens and people capable of doing great things.”

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