Teacher Stories

Educators Share Experiences and Innovations

How an Ethnic Studies Class Took to the Streets and the Internet to Support Standing Rock
When students in Carah Reed’s Ethnic Studies class realized that the mass media wasn’t sharing the truth about Standing Rock, they dug deeper to learn more. These inner-city high schoolers shared their findings on social media and took action to support the water protectors. This is Carah’s story.
51 Nations and 44 Languages: A Shared Struggle Toward Integration and Acceptance
by Luis Escamilla
In 2010, former Los Angeles Superior Court law clerk Luis Escamilla traded the courtroom for the classroom, where he teaches his immigrant and refugee students English, history, and a worldly understanding of identity and justice. This is Luis’ story.
How Can Public Schools Stop Amplifying Inequality?
by Bill Bigelow
Low-income communities continue to look for the best ways to improve their schools as the income gap grows across America.
This Youth Advocate and Father Empowers Young Men to Define and Build Healthy Relationships
by Marcus Griggs
Marcus Griggs’ father grew up in a violent home, but the cycle of abuse stopped when he had his own children. Through example and discipline, Marcus was taught how to be a strong and loving man. Today, Marcus helps young men who have experienced violence or abuse develop the skills to have healthy relationships—and become the best young men they can be. This is Marcus’ story.
Bull Sharks, Bimini, and Disappearing Islands: How Exploring By the Seat of Your Pants Blasts the Walls Off My Classroom
by Joe Grabowski
When Joe Grabowski's students reacted with horror to his stories about sharks, Grabowski took a novel approach to help these sharkaphobes get over their fear. Joe found shark researchers from the Bahamas to chat with his students online. Since that day, Joe's students have gone on over 100 global expeditions—meeting penguins, astronauts, and scuba divers. This is Joe's story.
Monarchs and Ballerinas: How Butterflies Turn My Students Into Earth Heroes
by Minnuette Rodriguez
In 2012, Minnuette Rodriguez started a small butterfly nursery to help her students strengthen their connection to nature. As students watch the butterflies’ transformations from egg to adult, Minnuette watches her students transform themselves. This is Minnuette’s story.
Practicing Awareness: A Living Memorial to Four Slain Kent State Students
by Karen Cunningham
In the spring of 2013, Kent State Professor Karen Cunningham used the YES! Magazine article "What Can Change When We Learn to See Each Other," to challenge students to practice empathy and compassion in their everyday lives, and then write about their experiences. The results, for both Professor Cunningham and her students, were life-changing. This is Karen’s story.
Getting to Know You: Home Visits Help Teachers and Parents Become Super Partners
by Nick Faber
In Saint Paul, Minnesota, teacher and union leader Nick Faber helped establish a local home visit project because he believes that, when a teacher knows his student's family, together they are the best partners in that child's learning.
Pause, Breathe, Draw: Art and Consciousness in the Classroom
by Elizabeth Traina
As a young girl, Elizabeth Traina had a teacher tell her that she wasn’t an artist. Now she helps empower teachers and students through the belief that we are all artists. This is Elizabeth’s story.
My Love Affair with Breadfruit (And Other Stories from the Waiʻanae Youth Garden)
by Tasia Yamamura
Tasia Yamamura is a FoodCorps service member on the beautiful Waiʻanae coast of Oahu, Hawai'i. To combat diabetes and heart disease, she is teaching young people how to grow and prepare real, healthy foods.
Fresh and Fly: Denver Rapper Teaches Kids to Be Gardeners Not Gangstas
by DJ Cavem
For Ietef "DJ Cavem" Vita, HIP HOP is not just a form of music, it's a way of life—one he's using to teach kids about cultivating the earth and eating fresh veggies.
Art for the Sky
by Daniel Dancer
Daniel Dancer's Art For the Sky is a unique, team-building activity for schools and special events. These enchanting creations on acres of land are a whole-body way of stimulating imagination and understanding the interconnection of people and all life.
And the Next Day, I Teach
by Aletha Fields
What calls Aletha Fields, English teacher at Iroquois High School in Louisville, Kentucky, to continue to teach each and every day? Friends, family, mentors, students, faith, and care for one's self.
Fried Onions, Feather Beds, and Intro to Chinese
by Gia Rae Winsryg-Ulmer
Here's a typical day at Brooklyn Free School.
Free to Be Me
by Gia Rae Winsryg-Ulmer
Gia Rae Winsryg-Ulmer knew she found her place to teach when she walked through the doors of Brooklyn Free School three years ago. See how Gia and BFS honor children's rights to be themselves and become the happy, healthy, and independent thinking people they are meant to be.