Oberlin High School celebrates teacher Kurt Russell for National Teacher of the Year recognition
Oberlin High School students and staff, as well as city and state leaders, celebrated veteran history teacher and basketball coach Kurt Russell on Thursday following his recognition as the 2022 National Teacher of the Year.
The Council of Chief State School Officers announced the honor on Tuesday. The national nonprofit cited Russell's emphasis on "cultural relevance and diverse representation" in the different history classes he teaches, which include African American history and a race, gender and oppression class he developed.
The council also pointed to his role as Oberlin High School's head varsity basketball coach, adding that he sees basketball "as an extension of the classroom and a place to teach life lessons on adversity and success."
At Thursday’s celebration, student Ryley Steggall praised Russell for his impact on students.
“Mr. Russell teaches us to be the next generation of world changers by teaching us the truth about the world we live in, about its history and about how we should learn from that history so we don't repeat it,“ Steggall said.
During his speech, Russell said he owes much to Oberlin schools for believing in him and allowing him to grow as an educator.
“It was Oberlin that shaped me and it was Oberlin that provided that ethic of hard work, being considerate, listening, having an open ear," Russell said. "That’s what Oberlin is.”
He said the greatest joy in receiving the 2022 National Teacher of the Year title is that he gets to share it with Oberlin.
Russell also reminded students at Oberlin to always "do what’s right," even when it’s hard.
During Thursday's ceremony, Stephanie Siddens, the Ohio Department of Education's interim superintendent, read a proclamation by Gov. Mike DeWine honoring Russell for his achievement.
Russell was born and raised in Oberlin. He was inspired to become a teacher by one of his own math teachers, who was his first Black male teacher.
As part of the national recognition, he’ll spend the next year making some 300 speaking engagements.