Richard Moore is the Department Head of Social Studies in the Academy of Tucson Middle School in Tucson, Arizona. He has received awards of Outstanding American History Teacher for the past two years. The first award was given by the Old Pueblo DAR and the second was awarded by Arizona State DAR* (Daughters of the American Revolution)
Q. Prior to receiving these two awards as Outstanding American History Teacher, had you ever received special recognition from your school or any other school in which you may have worked?
R. I have never received any special recognition from my school. This is the only school I have worked at since I graduated from the University off Arizona in 2008. I was selected by the eighth grade class to be the speaker at the Promotion Ceremony. That was an exceptional honor and allowed me to get the last word in on my students before they leave for high school. That was very cool !
Q. How did you learn about these awards?
R. I was notified about the DAR award by Principal Speta. The DAR contacted him that a member of their organization (DAR) had nominated me for the award.
Q. Did you feel the recognition was for good work you were doing in your classes?
R. Yes! The nomination was just the beginning of the overall process. Letters of
Recommendation were solicited from my colleagues, my principal, parents and students were collected by Principal Speta and then submitted to the DAR. I then had to submit a paper on my teaching philosophy, sample lesson plans, and two members of the DAR came to my classroom and observed me teaching.
Q. Who made the nomination for your recognition?
R. It was sort of a round about adventure. Mrs Jean-Ann Blackwell was the person who submitted my nomination. I had given a talk about education and teaching at a Williamsburg Foundation meeting here in Tucson; and she was in attendance. The year before, I had been honored with a scholarship to the Williamsburg Foundation Teacher Institute. The scholarship sponsor was the National Society of the Colonial Dames of America. My sponsor, in particular, was Mrs Blackwell the grandmother of one of my students. Mrs Blackwell is also a member of that group. When I returned I was asked to speak about what I had learned and to speak about my philosophy … and that is where and how the nomination began.
Q. What kind of responses did you receive other teachers in your school building or other teachers in the school district?
R. They were really excited about it.
Q. What response was given by the Board of Education and the Administration in your school district?
R. They were also excited with the Old Pueblo win, and became really excited when I won for the State of Arizona. They announced it on the District website: http://www.academyoftucson.com/ Mr Stewart, the Superintendent, Mrs Stewart, the Assistant Superintendent, and Mr Speta, my principal, drove to Phoenix for the award ceremony. It was a really splendid evening. The Stewarts also sent information on the award to the State Charter School Board.
Q. How important do you feel such recognition for teachers?
R. It is very important. Since winning I have been contacted by other school districts. My wife and family were ecstatic. Money is not a part of teaching, so recognition of the hard work and dedication all the teachers I know do everyday is very important. I wish there was recognition for the other nominees. Winning is a rare event and far too few teachers get this kind of recognition. At my school our music teacher, Mrs Cmiel, has been nominated twice for a Teacher’s Grammy. But other than a mention during our staff meetings, nothing beyond that was done.
It is presently a Sunday afternoon here in Tucson and I know that there are five other teachers here at the school working on getting ready for the coming week.
I have been nominated for a STEM Technology in the Classroom award and nominated twice for the NCSS Teacher of the year award (National Council for the Social Studies). Also the 2015 Ed Eisele Awards for Excellence in Economics, and for the 2016 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year award. I believe I was the token Social Studies teacher for the STEM award. Winning is a rare and special event.
Q. What responses did you receive from your students?
R. My students are the best, and they are the reason I won. They gave me a proper “Huzzah!” for my wins. They were just as excited at the nomination too. I think the great reception they gave the members of the DAR when they came to my classroom did more than anything else. My students are great.
Q. Did winning this award change your life, and if so, in what ways?
R. As mentioned earlier, I have received job offers from other school districts. I received a scholarship to take some graduate economics classes. I have been asked to speak at different functions. Dean Marx at the University of Arizona, College of Education, sent me a congratulatory note by mail. But I am still doing what I love to do, teach.
Q. What type of recognition did you get in the media in your school district or state media when you were given these recognition awards?
R. There was a mention in the Education Section of the local newspaper.
Q. I found a research study of 20,000 teachers in the US, that found some 50% of American K- Year 12 schools do not to have a recognition program. Do you feel this should change? Why?
R. Yes, money, as in better pay in general, or even merit raises are not something that will happen in Arizona for a while. That leaves recognizing the hard work that a great many teachers are doing every day as an important option.
Q. Are there other types of recognition in your school district? If so, who makes the recommendations for award winners?
R. We have no formal sort of recognition for the teaching staff at our district. Recommendations for occasional other awards are either done by a principal, other staff members, parents, or other professionals in education. I am involved in a great deal with outside professional development groups both on-line and locally where I speak and write about education. I think that my nominations have come from persons outside of our school.
Q. Will other teachers you know support ‘recognition’ awards if they are given for their excellence in teaching?
R. Yes, without a doubt. I have nominated two of our teachers at this school for awards for their outstanding work in the classroom.
Q. If you have a teacher union or teacher association do they support this type of recognition for teachers in your school district?
R. I am not a member of a teacher’s union. The associations I work with all have teacher recognition awards.
Q. There is a big push across the country to move teacher future pay systems into merit pay. How do you and other teachers you know feel about this movement and is your school district or state involved in merit pay?
R. Most of the teachers I work with would support merit pay. Our district does not.
Q. What else would you like to add for teachers in the USA, in Australia, and the UK, relative to the importance of special recognition for excellence in their teaching? All three countries are into merit and/or performance pay at this time.
R. Recognize and appreciate the teachers that are knocking it out of the park every day in their classrooms. Teaching is the hardest job you will ever love. I became a teacher because I felt a passion for learning and teaching and I knew it would not make me much in income.
Since I started teaching I have married and we have a son. Money matters more now, but my family supports me in my efforts. They were thrilled when I won these awards. I know too many teachers that have left the profession because they need to move onto a career that allows them to make a better income. None of them wanted to be rich and they were just working a second job so they could still teach. It is anecdotal, but twenty-five percent of the teachers I know work a second job so they can remain a teacher. Merit pay would be a good way to differentiate and honor the better teachers. But don’t we want all of our teachers to be great?
Any other comments you wish to add:
Thank you for asking for my opinion on these matters. It was a real hoot! I now must finish grading some quizzes and post them in the grade book so I can go home to my family.
* The DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) founded in 1890 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a non-profit, non-political volunteer women's service organization dedicated to promoting patriotism, preserving American history, and securing America's future through better education for children.
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Dr Hans A Andrews is the Distinguished Fellow for Community College Leadership. He is the author of seven books on accountable teacher evaluation, the need for recognition for teachers, and dual-credit programs for high school students. His latest book, "Recognition vs. Merit Pay For Our Best Teachers" and his other works can be viewed at www.matildapress.com .
Dr Andrews can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org . His most recent books are: "Recognition vs Merit Pay for Our Best Teachers"; "Accountable Teacher Evaluation" and "Awards and Recognition for Exceptional Teachers".
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