Meet the Changemakers: 12 Extraordinary (and Inspiring) Educators We Met This Year

December 20, 2017

The 74

The holidays have hit full stride here at The 74, but we’re still buzzing about the unforgettable educators we met this year. We’ve all encountered teachers who inspire us, but the innovators we met in 2017 have pushed our seasonal thankfulness to new heights.

From changemakers championing Puerto Rican students and their hurricane-battered schools, to small districts using technology to turn around achievement gaps in rural South Carolina, they’re the stories of movers and shakers, both big and small, showing us the extraordinary impact educators have in shaping classrooms across America one student at a time.

There was the superintendent in Florida who said immigration enforcement will happen in his schools “over my dead body.” The New Orleans native who helped turn around some of the city’s worst-performing schools. The head of a Rhode Island school that refuses to fail teen mothers. The professor who helps guide Sesame Street on science matters, and helped dream up the ever curious, ever persistent, totally gritty Grover!

Here at The 74 the year was filled with countless inspiring heroes just like this, but if we highlighted them all, this post would rival the longest of holiday novels. So here are our top picks: a dozen school leaders we can’t stop clamoring about and their share-worthy stories.

Brooke Hite, teacher at Colleton County High School: When Hite took a teaching job in South Carolina’s “Corridor of Shame,” a region known for historically inequitable school funding, she knew she’d be making less money than she could at wealthier districts. What she didn’t expect was the staggering income inequality she saw in Colleton County, where about a quarter of residents live in poverty and only 14 percent of adults have a bachelor’s degree or higher. Hite – who is now working on a master’s degree – taught at the school’s Cougar New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy, an outpost of the national nonprofit New Tech Network that has a mission of boosting high school graduation rates, college attendance, and employability. Read our full story about Hite and Colleton County High School’s Cougar New Tech Entrepreneurial Academy. Read More…

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