Disney American Teacher of the Year Highlights TAMIU Teacher Rally

Local teachers attending the Third Annual Teachers Rally Saturday, Aug. 17 at the Texas A&M International University Kinesiology-Convocation Building will have an opportunity to hear from one of the nation's most celebrated young teachers.

The Rally, hosted by the TAMIU College of Education and The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents Initiative for Texas Public, will feature Ron Clark, Disney American Teacher of the Year 2000.

Clark, a sixth grade teacher in Harlem, New York City, was chosen from over 80,000 nominations for the Disney honor.

Interestingly, he never planned to become a teacher and only did so after he undertook a journey around the world after graduating from East Carolina University (ECU).

But he found the classroom offered him the greatest sense of adventure and spent 5 years as a teacher in rural eastern North Carolina where he worked with minority students in a low-wealth area. Year after year, he, his students and classroom projects earned national and international recognition and were invited to the White House for three separate years to be recognized by President and Mrs. Clinton.

He left his classroom when he saw a TV show about low test scores and the lack of teachers in inner-city New York. He headed to Harlem, where he was told his classes would have the worst discipline at the school. He visited each student at home with their family prior to the first day of school.

Within weeks he quickly began to involve students in projects around the city and state and his "low achievers" soon were posting scores higher than those labeled as "gifted" with the same district.

When Clark discovered he was a nominee for the award, he raised over $25,000 in order to take his entire class with him to Los Angeles for the award show.

Last year, he drove nine of his Harlem students to his hometown in North Carolina where they spent eight days in a series of outdoor activities including fishing and rock climbing, most of which his students had never enjoyed.

His alma mater, ECU, has inducted him into its Hall of Fame and he has made appearances on Oprah Winfrey and Rosie O'Donnell shows. He was featured in Oprah Magazine and has recently made trips to Japan and China to learn about their educational systems.

Over 2500 local teachers are expected to attend the morning session and join Clark in a celebration of their profession, their commitment and their pride.

Thirty schools from both local districts are partners with the University in the Regents Initiative.

For additional information on the Teachers Rally and the Regents Initiative, please contact Hein at 326.2694, email to thein@tamiu.edu or visit offices in the Killam Library, room 322 D.

University office hours are from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Affairs and Information Services at pais@tamiu.edu