Shelby: Maggie is here with me now, and we are talking about the Academy Awards of education. Every spring, the president honors a National Teacher of the Year at the White House.
Maggie: Yeah, Shelby. And this year, the award was given to a 30-year-old English teacher who is one of the youngest to ever receive the award. And his students say he is much more than just their teacher. Check it out.
President Obama met with a pretty impressive bunch yesterday – the state winners for Teacher of the Year.
President Obama: Today is a chance to thank, not just the teachers on this stage, but teachers all across the country.
Maggie: And it was a young teacher from Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore, Maryland that got the top award – National Teacher of the Year.
Obama: And with that, I’m going to present Sean with his apple. Thank you and God bless you. God bless America!
Maggie: At the White House or inside a classroom, Sean McComb’s passion for his students and their education is obvious.
Sean McComb: Listen for your figure’s names, so I can get these out to you. Princess Diana…
Maggie: He will do just about anything…
Mr. McComb: It had mold growing on top of some bacteria.
Maggie: …To get his students fired up about learning.
Mr. McComb: Do you want to hear the story of how it happened?
Maggie: But Sean didn’t always have that passion for education.
Mr. McComb: I was always the student with potential, but sometimes I didn’t meet that potential. I had a lot of struggles in my home life. My parents both went through some periods of unemployment, my mother was an alcoholic, and our home life was challenging a lot of times. There was a lot of chaos.
Maggie: Sean says it was two of his high school teachers who helped him finally turn his life around.
Mr. McComb: They were compassionate for what was going on in my life, but at the same time they knew that I needed to hold myself to high standards in order to get out of there and to make something of myself. They absolutely saved me. I mean, there was darkness and they shined a light into that darkness and made me believe that I could do more, that I could be someone.
So, you have a checklist?
Maggie: And now he is paying it forward in his own classroom.
Mr. McComb: Kids before content and love before all. You know, I teach students. I don’t teach English. I teach students English. And my first task is to make sure that they feel loved and cared for and safe to take risks.
Maggie: He uses his own troubled youth to connect with his students, always pushing them to be the absolute best they can be.
Brandy Batty: When I was going through my storms and my roller coaster, he was there every down and up.
Maggie: At just sixteen, Brandy Batty had a child of her own. After being kicked out of her home she had nowhere to turn.
Brandy: I was thinking about quitting school. I was thinking about taking the easy route. He was like,… He just pushed me. He was like, ‘Nope, I’m not going to let you do it.
Maggie: She says Sean is much more than her teacher.
Brandy: A lot more. He’s like a hero because without him, I don’t think I would be sitting here today. I really wouldn’t.
Principal Craig Reed: Everyday he teaches the students in his class as if they were his own. And that’s what we all want as parents, as citizens.
Maggie: Sean insists the award is not just for him, but for all the teachers across the nation who put their heart and soul into their jobs.
Mr. McComb: I hope that they embrace me as their ambassador because I love this profession. It changed my life. And I hope that I can use it to change others’ lives as well.
Maggie: Mr. McComb is a big fan of his students too. After he found out about the award, he wrote his class a thank you saying, “It’s cool because you all just became national students of the year!”
Shelby: Sounds like an A+ teacher to me!