This Texas Teacher Has Been Named National Teacher of the Year

This Texas Teacher Has Been Named National Teacher of the Year

Shanna Peeples, a high school teacher from Amarillo, Texas, has been selected as the 2015 National Teacher Of The Year, due in part to her work with impoverished immigrant students and refugees.

Peeples, 50, teaches at Palo Duro High, a high school where 85% of the students live below the poverty line. The school also has more refugee children enrolled than in any other high school in the district.

The AP English teacher has specifically dedicated her time to students facing poverty and traumas related to their immigration to the United States. Peeples, the first Texas teacher to be chosen since 1957, said her childhood exposure to alcoholism and domestic violence provided her with the necessary empathy to teach children from Burma, Somalia, Ethiopia, Iraq and Cuba, The Huffington Post reports

Peeples will be honored by Barack Obama in a ceremony at the White House on Wednesday morning. The President hopes to thank the teacher for her "hard work and dedication each and every day in the classroom." 

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The teacher will take off a year from the classroom to serve as a spokeswoman for her profession. She hopes to highlight the issues of poverty in education. "The fact brings a whole constellation of challenges — how hard it is to try to learn when you're hungry, or when you're sick and can't afford to go to the doctor, or when you have to move out of your home in the middle of the night because you can't afford the rent," she said, according to Amarillo Globe-News. "That's unfortunately what many teachers are dealing with. The good news about that is for so many of those kids the story that starts out that way sometimes ends with such an amazing personal triumph for students."

Before becoming a teacher 12 years ago, Peeples worked as a pet sitter, disc jockey and education reporter for the Amarillo Globe-News. "I realize that I liked the kids more than I liked writing about the kids," she told The Washington Post

"There's just a lot of fear surrounding education right now," she continued. "I would hope people would turn that fear into faith in the fact that our teachers really care about they're doing and really care about the kids that they teach."

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