NEA presents $25,000 gift to National Teachers Hall of Fame

June 17, 2011

Organization pledges to raise another $100,000

The National Teachers Hall of Fame celebrated its 20th induction ceremony tonight with a $25,000 gift from the National Education Association and a pledge to raise $100,000 more.

“You represent the hundreds of hundreds of thousands of great teachers who every day serve the students of the United States,” Christy Levings, a member of the NEA executive committee and elementary school teacher from Osawatomie, Kan., told the 2011 hall of fame inductees.

Levings was speaking at the induction banquet at Emporia State University where she presented a $25,000 check to Dr. Michael R. Lane, president of Emporia State University and chairman of the NTHF board of directors.

The NTHF was established in Emporia in 1989. Beginning in 1992, five teachers have been selected each year for induction into the hall. This year’s 20th-anniversary class of teachers are:

Walter Patrick Earle who teaches high school agriculture at McBee High School in McBee, S.C.;

Debra Howell who teaches fourth through sixth grade at Monte Cristo Elementary School in Granite Falls, Wash.;

Paul Miller, high school algebra and calculus teacher at Israel Henry Beren High School in Baltimore, Md.;

James Percoco who teaches 11th- and 12th-grade history at West Springfield High School in Springfield, Va.; and

Mark Weaver, seventh-grade science teacher at Clay Middle School in Carmel, Ind.

Levings commended Emporia State University and the Emporia community for “what you’ve done to nurture this great organization to focus attention on education.”

But, she said, it’s time to do more, and the NEA and the NEA Foundation believe they have the resources to bring more attention to the hall of fame.

“We are a 3.2-million-member organization with members in every state across the country,” Levings said. “We want to raise nationally another $100,000 to continue to build the National Teachers Hall of Fame so people recognize what a jewel and what a gift is here in Emporia.”

The initial $25,000 gift is the largest single gift in four years, according to Lane.

Jill Docking, former chair of the Kansas Board of Regents, reminded the audience of the importance of teachers.

“As we honor these five teachers today,” Docking said, “each of us can look back on teachers who were important in our lives, second only to our parents.”

Docking shared the story of Albert Alexander Hyde, inventor of Mentholatum, who believed it was his obligation to give all of his wealth away and wanted to affect multiple generations in doing so. Hyde’s legacy is seen in Wichita State University, Friends University and other educational pursuits in the city of Wichita.

“This was a 100-year investment,” Docking said, “and shows how important it is to invest in education.

“Our country must commit and refocus on education,” Docking said, “because we are not falling behind, we are behind.”

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