It's not February, but Dallas Independent School District teacher Eric Hale is making Black history in the state of Texas. At the end of September, the David G. Burnet Elementary School teacher was named Texas Teacher of the Year. By earning the award, Hale becomes the first Black man to hold the title.
Shortly after learning that he had earned the honor, Hale took to Facebook to celebrate the news.
“I just want to say thank you so much to everybody that prayed for me. I’m so overjoyed how God has worked with me,” he said.
“My first year teaching I was told I should try something else and that teaching wasn’t for me.”
Thankfully, he didn't take another career path. Hale is no stranger to doubt and overcoming the odds. He grew up in an underprivileged area of Phoenix, but his lifelong work ethic resulted in a bachelors degree in healthcare management and a masters degree in education. He now teaches math and science at David G. Burnet Elementary School.
“I wasn't blessed to make it from where people aren't supposed to make it, just to be middle‑class and not give back,” Hale said.
“That wasn't my purpose.”
Hale is not new to the awards podium. In 2015, he was named a Distinguished Teacher and earned a $5,000 raise.
“If you love what you do and are successful at it, then you are already ‘distinguished,’“ he said.
“Go through the process and get compensated for doing what you are already doing daily in your classroom. Believe in yourself and in your students and you are exemplary.”
Having won the award at the state level, Hale will now move forward and represent Texas in the National Teacher of the Year program.