Kurt Russell, an Ohio history teacher, has been named the 2022 National Teacher of the Year. The Oberlin High School teacher was one of four finalists considered for the award. He was eventually chosen by the Council of Chief State School Officers.
“From the classroom to extracurricular activities to the basketball court, Kurt’s extensive career demonstrates the power of educators to shape the lives of students,” CCSSO Chief Executive Officer Carissa Moffat Miller said in a statement.
Russell, who has been teaching for 25 years, told CBS News that growing up in the South and witnessing numerous historical events influenced his decision to become a history teacher. The Black educator also stated that he is always looking for new ways to engage students in discussions about societal issues.
“I try to give my students as many opportunities to learn as possible, and one 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 grow.”
He went on to say that his students are his inspiration. “Every day, my children bring a scent of respect, a scent of eagerness to learn, and I am just lucky to be a part of this great education,” Russell said.
Russell’s teaching methods were also praised by some of his students. During his lessons, they mentioned his emphasis on cultural relevance as well as representation.
“He’s enthusiastic and connects his curriculum to real-world experiences,” said an Oberlin High School senior.
“He does a really good job of fostering conversations where everyone can have their say,” said another student.
The National Teacher of the Year for 2022 is scheduled to visit the White House and meet with First Lady Jill Biden. He stated that he intends to emphasize the importance of employing diverse educators in schools across the country.
“My message is simple: provide a diverse educational experience for all students.” “When I say diverse, I also mean faculty and staff,” Russell explained.