National Teacher of the Year talks to 'Live Here'
By John Kanelis
Shanna Peeples has done a lot of things in her life.
Pet sitter, disc jockey, medical assistant, journalist.
Now, though, she is a public school teacher. And a very good one at that. She's so good at her job that the Council of Chief State School Officials has named her National Teacher of the Year for 2015.
I should add that Peeples hails from Amarillo. She teaches English at Palo Duro High School and she has been traveling not just throughout this great country talking up her profession, but has been abroad as well, telling the world about her passion for teaching and the success she has enjoyed.
Peeples sat down with Panhandle PBS and is going to tell our viewers about her journey Thursday night at 7 in the next segment of "Live Here."
I have the honor of knowing Shanna. I worked with her for a time at the Amarillo Globe-News, which was her last job before she ended up in a seventh-grade classroom to teach Amarillo students.
She has been honored at the White House by President Barack Obama, who in April saluted her with glowing praise. The president didn't just praise Shanna. He also honored all the statewide teachers of the year who were gathered outside the White House.
Here are the president's remarks, courtesy of the White House:
Peeples's challenge is daunting at PDHS. Many of her students are refugees from some of the world's most dangerous regions. They have come to Amarillo from places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Myanmar, Cambodia,Vietnam and Laos. They are economically disadvantaged. They need help learning English. They struggle to find their way in a foreign land and acclimating themselves to a brand new culture.
To whom do many of them turn? To their teachers.
Peeples is there for her students.
She told the Texas Tribune earlier this year that she still hadn't gotten over being named Texas teacher of the year. The national honor, she said, was mind-boggling in the extreme.
Here is the link to the Texas Tribune interview:
The Tribune asked her about whether she experiences "trauma" in the classroom.
Her answer: "Totally. That is the most woefully underfunded need of students. It is a sort of invisible need that we don’t think about and that is mental health services."
The president said it well in honoring the teachers who came to the White House early this year. They provide guidance and love to their students every day; sometimes it's a struggle. "But they get up and do it again the next day," the president said.
Shanna Peeples exemplifies the best of our public educators.
She's one of ours and she will sit down to tell us about the wild ride she's enjoyed since being named National Teacher of the Year.