Maybe it’s because my mom worked as a teacher, or maybe it’s because I’m so grateful for the teachers who made a difference in my life—but anytime I feel overwhelmed by my job, I think of the tremendous responsibility and pressure our nation’s educators feel every day. And so many of them go beyond the call of duty, whether it’s nurturing talent in individual students, finding innovative ways to get kids excited about learning or helping their classrooms make some sense of the alarming headlines in the news. On July 15 at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game in Minneapolis, we honored 30 extraordinary teachers. These men and women (each representing an MLB club) were the winners of the People and MLB All-Star Teachers campaign presented by Target. If you were watching the game on Fox, you saw them stand on the field before the first pitch, and you heard the applause in the stadium. Idina Menzel sang a tribute. And Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Joe Biden and an English teacher herself, sang their praises, calling them “the best of the best.”
These honorees (it was the fifth year MLB and PEOPLE teamed up to honor heroes) were chosen from thousands nominated. Among them: Nicole Dow-Macosky, a high school math teacher in Horsham, Pa., whose Project Chemo Crochet makes blankets for those with cancer; Blake Smith of Santa Ana, Calif., a former maintenance man who now educates those with severe disabilities; and Denver’s Cheryl Beckwith, who shows up to class wearing scuba gear to entertain and engage her kids to “dive into learning.” During a three-day All-Star Game celebration, the winners worked with Target to pack 11,000 back-to-school tote bags for underprivileged kids and rode in a parade with ballplayers. Rachel Blanks, a winning teacher from Dayton, noted that “to be treated like a celebrity is awesome.” Few celebrities are more deserving of a shout-out. We think all these teachers are awesome, and we are proud to honor each of them.
JESS CAGLE, Editorial Director