Kurt Russell, a history teacher from Oberlin High School in Ohio, has been named the 2022 National Teacher of the Year. He was selected out of four finalists by the non-profit Council of Chief State School Officers.
His students say he is known for emphasizing cultural relevance and representation through his classes.
“He’s enthusiastic and relates his curriculum to real-world experiences,” Oberlin High School Senior Nia Mitchell said.
“He does a really good job of fostering conversations where everyone can have a perspective,” another student said.
Russell told “CBS Mornings” that he is proud of the school district he works for and that he gets his inspiration from his students.
“Each and every day my children bring a scent of respect, a scent of an eagerness to learn, and I am just fortunate that I am part of this great education,” Russell said.
Russell grew up in the South and lived through several historical events. This, he said, shaped his desire to become a history teacher. He’s been teaching for 25 years and told “CBS Mornings” he’s always looking for new ways to talk to students about societal issues.
“I try to make sure that my students have the most opportunity to learn, and the 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 are growing,” he said.
As the 2022 National Teacher of the Year, Russell will meet with first lady Jill Biden at the White House. He said he wants to communicate the importance of diverse hiring within schools across the nation.
“My message is clear: to provide a diverse education opportunity for all students. When I mean diverse, representing faculty and staff as well,” he said.