James Hill - 2021 Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education
James Hill - Lincoln Southwest High School Spanish Teacher, Lincoln Public Schools |
2021 Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education | Introduction by Sherri Jones, Dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences | University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Courage is an important quality not often recognized in teachers. The Christa McAuliffe Prize for Courage and Excellence in Education honors this special form of courage.
This prize is different than other "Teacher of the Year" awards. "Rewarding courage selects out a slightly different kind of teacher," said Dr. Gregg Wright, creator of the prize. The teachers who are recognized are all excellent educators, but they go beyond excellence by showing courage. Courage can be displayed in many different ways, but the common denominator among all the prizewinners is the lasting and positive effect they have had on their students and on their peers. As Bob Kerrey said in the introduction to the McAuliffe Prize 20 year retrospective magazine, "The trends affecting education today make courageous teachers even more important, affecting every school in Nebraska. . . . Courage is not taught by a curriculum, it is caught from the example of others."
The prize was started as a memorial for Christa McAuliffe, the teacher/astronaut who lost her life in the Challenger space shuttle accident in January 1986. Ms. McAuliffe provided a very visible demonstration of both courage and excellence in education--qualities that are found in many Nebraska teachers to the benefit of all our children. This fund provides a way to recognize these teachers, and at the same time honor the memory of Ms. McAuliffe's courage.
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[00:00:01.030]Hi, I'm Sherri Jones,
[00:00:03.280]Dean of the College of
[00:00:04.517]Education and Human Sciences
[00:00:06.517]at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
[00:00:09.296]Each year the college presents the
[00:00:11.449]Christa McAuliffe Prize for
[00:00:13.064]Courage and Excellence in Education,
[00:00:15.790]to a Nebraska teacher
[00:00:17.629]who exemplifies the
[00:00:18.970]character of Christa McAuliffe.
[00:00:21.010]The first teacher in space who
[00:00:23.317]died in the 1986 Challenger
[00:00:25.840]Space Shuttle disaster.
[00:00:27.825]The pandemic this year,
[00:00:29.391]showcased to the world,
[00:00:30.670]the courage that teachers exhibit
[00:00:32.477]on a daily basis.
[00:00:34.371]In the face of adversity,
[00:00:36.315]teachers dig deeper,
[00:00:39.301]and take swift action
[00:00:41.102]to help students reach their
[00:00:44.650]This year's recipient of
[00:00:46.441]the Christa McAuliffe Prize
[00:00:48.044]for Courage and Excellence
[00:00:49.450]in Education is James Hill.
[00:00:52.420]James is an exemplary teacher who
[00:00:54.822]exhibits courage in his role as a
[00:00:57.160]Spanish teacher at Lincoln
[00:00:59.013]Southwest High School.
[00:01:00.910]He is not afraid to speak
[00:01:02.640]up or try something new,
[00:01:04.720]to make sure his students receive
[00:01:06.857]the support they need to thrive.
[00:01:10.725]On behalf of the College of
[00:01:12.370]Education and Human Sciences.
[00:01:22.408]To be the recipient of the
[00:01:23.691]Christa McAuliffe Prize
[00:01:25.328]is incredibly humbling.
[00:01:26.978]When I, when I look at
[00:01:28.273]past award winners and I,
[00:01:29.607]and I try to mentally place
[00:01:31.059]myself in that category, it's,
[00:01:33.059]it's really pretty incredible.
[00:01:34.840]I mean they've accomplished some
[00:01:36.132]wonderful things and it's very humbling.
[00:01:38.020]And you know, after a year like this, where
[00:01:39.851]a lot of us teachers, you know, we,
[00:01:41.960]we experienced a lot more failure
[00:01:43.577]than I think, than ever before.
[00:01:44.980]And it was a very challenging year.
[00:01:46.662]And I think
[00:01:48.125]the teachers across the nation,
[00:01:50.018]I mean, you could,
[00:01:50.860]you could give this award
[00:01:51.983]to about any teacher for
[00:01:52.933]making this year work because
[00:01:55.564]this year was tough.
[00:01:56.319]At the end of the day.
[00:01:57.566]My job description says I'm
[00:01:58.706]a high school, Spanish teacher,
[00:02:00.738]but the reality is, I'm just an educator
[00:02:02.993]who hopes that when my students
[00:02:03.955]come to my class,
[00:02:05.366]they're coming to a place where
[00:02:06.409]they feel comfortable
[00:02:07.265]and safe enough to make mistakes.
[00:02:09.144]Confident enough to know that
[00:02:10.158]making those mistakes is okay
[00:02:12.193]because they're in a supportive environment
[00:02:13.933]where they can let their guard down
[00:02:15.827]and they can be themselves.
[00:02:17.136]And most importantly,
[00:02:18.237]each of them truly matters. When that
[00:02:20.335]environment helps them experience success
[00:02:21.747]and actually get pretty good at
[00:02:22.838]Spanish while they're here.
[00:02:24.005]Well, that's just a bonus.
[00:02:25.513]I think you can define courage
[00:02:27.166]a lot of different ways.
[00:02:28.902]You know, there's courage
[00:02:30.393]in all kinds of fields,
[00:02:31.482]but I think courage in education is
[00:02:33.624]you see it in kids and you see it in teachers.
[00:02:35.172]But I think a lot of it it's trying to
[00:02:37.135]do what's best for kids and hold yourself
[00:02:39.552]and hold others accountable
[00:02:41.006]to high standards.
[00:02:42.018]You know, maybe,
[00:02:43.032]maybe you have to have a difficult
[00:02:44.116]conversation with a colleague because what
[00:02:45.792]they're doing is not what's
[00:02:46.916]best for a kid or, you know,
[00:02:48.672]potentially an administrator.
[00:02:50.186]And, you know, maybe sometimes you
[00:02:51.518]kind of have to stand up.
[00:02:54.639]That's not always easy to do,
[00:02:57.098]because questioning authority is,
[00:02:58.728]is challenging at times. And I think if
[00:03:00.485]you can model that as a teacher, that,
[00:03:02.218]you know, as long as
[00:03:02.977]you do it in a respectful manner
[00:03:05.136]and you have points and valid
[00:03:06.576]points, and you're not just
[00:03:07.451]complaining that, you know,
[00:03:09.066]you can accomplish some things.
[00:03:10.206]I think if you can teach kids to be
[00:03:11.662]better advocates in that regard and be
[00:03:13.656]courageous, and don't be afraid to
[00:03:15.136]stand up for what you believe in,
[00:03:16.416]as long as you're doing it in a
[00:03:17.934]respectful manner that, you know,
[00:03:19.266]they can get some good
[00:03:20.886]If you can convince
[00:03:21.940]your kids that I'm here,
[00:03:23.466]because I care about you
[00:03:25.217]and you need to care about
[00:03:27.222]each other and you can model that and
[00:03:28.996]model that and model that.
[00:03:30.183]And then they start to do that.
[00:03:31.348]Then they can kind of start taking care
[00:03:32.760]of the problems before they even get to you.
[00:03:35.010]Because they care about each other
[00:03:36.230]and they hold each other accountable.
[00:03:38.308]I think those things help quite a bit.
[00:03:39.714]I think a lot of people wake up in the
[00:03:40.974]morning and like uh, another day of work,
[00:03:42.504]but I don't, I don't feel that way.
[00:03:45.480]I really enjoy what I do. And it's,
[00:03:47.501]it's about the kids because without the
[00:03:50.034]kids, I don't know where this would be.
[00:03:52.410]It is a very, it's a very
[00:03:53.681]rewarding field because the kids,
[00:03:55.375]the kids are awesome and you get new
[00:03:56.872]ones all the time and you get to keep in
[00:03:58.345]touch with the ones that go some of them.
[00:04:00.848]It's just fun to see them grow, so.
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