Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame : NPR Ed Five teachers were inducted into the National Teacher Hall of Fame this year and NPR's Claudio Sanchez sat down with them to get their take on what it means to be a teacher.
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Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

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Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

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Emily Bogle/NPR
5 teachers
Emily Bogle/NPR

Emporia, Kansas is home to rolling prairies, wheat fields, and the world's biggest frisbee golf tournament.

But the reason we went there: the National Teacher Hall of Fame, which gives the place it's most revered title, Teacher Town USA.

In 1989 the members of the Emporia local school board and Emporia State University asked, 'Why doesn't anyone honor teachers?'

To fill the void, they created the museum and hall of fame, where the top five teachers in the nation are honored every year. To be eligible, you must have taught for 20 years or more.

To date, 130 teachers have been inducted. We sat down with this year's inductees to hear the trials, tribulations, and valuable lessons they learned in their years in the classroom.

What They've Learned In The Classroom

  • Jonathan Gillentine

    Jonathan Gillentine is an early learning resource teacher in Honolulu, Hawaii. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

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    Emily Bogle/NPR

    Jonathan Gillentine is an early learning resource teacher in Honolulu, Hawaii.

    Emily Bogle/NPR

    Focus: Early Learning Resource Teacher
    Location: Honolulu, Hawaii
    Total years in the classroom: 36


    "We don't always respect children in the ways that they need to learn, their strengths and preferences. They need meaningful relevant experiences rather than just 'hey, do this and move on to this worksheet'. "

    Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

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  • Matinga Ragatz

    Matinga Ragatz is a social studies and world language teacher in Grand Ledge, Michigan. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

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    Matinga Ragatz is a social studies and world language teacher in Grand Ledge, Michigan.

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    Focus: Social Studies and World Language, grades 9-12

    Location: Grand Ledge, Michigan

    Total years in the classroom: 22

    "There is a rebellion that I see in the students it's a very positive one for education. We've really helicoptered the kids and what we're witnessing now is the kids saying let me do it on my own let my try by myself. What we see in classroom where the kids are allowed to fail you don't see that. The classroom looks more like a workplace, like a business. In the class where you're still giving them a to do list it's hard to get them to follow your lead."

    Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

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  • Bob Wiliams

    Bob Williams is a high school math teacher in Palmer, Alaska. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

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    Bob Williams is a high school math teacher in Palmer, Alaska.

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    Focus: Mathematics, grades 9-12

    Location: Palmer, Alaska

    Total years in the classroom: 29

    "I think there's a lot of people that go to work everyday and think about the value of what they're doing. Everyday I've been committed to public education and gone to teach and I know the importance of what I'm doing and I know that it makes a difference. When a student comes up and says because of you I'm going to minor in mathematics in college, because of you I never really planned on going to college but I'm going to go to college, because of you I'm going to go in the peace corp, there is something so rewarding about that, it's priceless."

    Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

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  • Ashli Dreher

    Ashli Skura Dreher is a special education teacher at Lewiston-Porter High School in Youngstown, New York. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

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    Ashli Skura Dreher is a special education teacher at Lewiston-Porter High School in Youngstown, New York.

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    Focus: Special Education, grades 8-12 and up to age 21

    Location: Youngstown, New York

    Total years in the classroom: 21

    "Self esteem is built on real accomplishment. We need to be careful about giving false self esteem. We have to make sure the compliments we give are based on the effort they've put in."

    Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

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  • Joseph Ruhl

    Joseph Ruhl is a high school biology and genetics teacher at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana. Emily Bogle/NPR hide caption

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    Joseph Ruhl is a high school biology and genetics teacher at Jefferson High School in Lafayette, Indiana.

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    Focus: Biology, Genetics and Science Projects, grades 9-12

    Location: Lafayette, Indiana

    Total years in the classroom: 38

    "There's a huge difference in the technology they know how to use. I want to go back to what Jonathan said about caring. In 39 years I have noticed that is the biggest motivator for kids. If the kids perceive that the teacher genuinely cares about each of them as individuals that's huge. That carries more weight in the classroom than any teaching technique. Establishing a sense of family and community in the classroom."

    Meet The 5 New Inductees Of The National Teachers Hall Of Fame

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