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Oberlin’s Kurt Russell named 2022 Teacher of the year

by Ezekiel J. Walker
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Kurt Russell, a history teacher at Oberlin High School in Oberlin, Ohio, has been named the 2022 National Teacher of the Year.

According to 10 WBNS, the Council of Chief State School Officers announced Tuesday that Russell is the organization’s National Teacher of the Year for 2022. The group previously named him Ohio’s teacher of the year.

Far from an overnight success story, for the last 25 years, Russell has been teaching history and African American history at Oberlin High School in Lorain County.

While school boards and legislators aim to remove Black culture from school texts, Russell has used his experiences to introduce a curriculum for all.

Kurt Russell credits the 440 for who he is.

With the city on his back, Russell says, “Oberlin provided that ethic of hard work, being nice to people, being considerate, listening, having an open ear. That’s who Oberlin is; that’s in our DNA.”

According to Cleveland.com, during his first year at Oberlin H.S., he helped develop an African American history course for students. He later collaborated with a music teacher to create a class called Black Music in the African Diaspora that covers blues, jazz, and R&B.

“Each and every day my children bring a scent of respect, a scent of an eagerness to learn, and I am just fortunate that I am part of this great education,” said Russell in an appearance on CBS Mornings on Tuesday.

A history teacher shaping the future.

A Southerner by birth, Russell, has lived through several historical events that come up in his classes. He said his life experience helped to shape his desire to become a history teacher and engaging with students helps everyone learn.

“I try to make sure that my students have the most opportunity to learn, and the way I do that is through engagement — by allowing my students to see themselves in the curriculum, and by seeing themselves in the curriculum, students are growing,” he said.

Winning runs in Russell’s veins.

As if being Teacher of The Year isn’t enough, Kurt Russell is also the boy’s basketball coach at Oberlin. His team finished the season with a 16-6 record and a Lorain County championship.

According to The Washington Post, Black, Latino, Asian, and Native American teachers make up 17 percent of all U.S. public school teachers. However, Black men only make up about 2 percent, according to the American Federation of Teachers.

From Oberlin to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

The honor of being named 2022 National Teacher of the Year will offer Russell an opportunity to meet with educator and first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, at the White House. Russell said he plans to discuss the importance of diverse hiring within schools across the nation.

As the 2022 National Teacher of the Year, Russell will also spend the next year serving as an ambassador for education and an advocate for teachers and students.

“My message is clear: to provide a diverse education opportunity for all students. When I mean diverse, representing faculty and staff as well,” he said.

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