Position: Kindergarten / First Grade Teacher
School: David G. Burnet Elementary School
School District: Dallas ISD
City, State: Dallas, TX
Music that Describes Eric
Eric Hale was nominated by his colleague, Jordan Dontos.
"During this time of racism, pandemics and social distancing, we can all use an uplifting story of a male, African American elementary school teacher overlooking it all in order to give his all to the lives that really matter most – our children’s. Let me tell you about Dallas ISD teacher, Eric Hale," said Dontos. "But first, let me introduce myself. At 45 years-old, I decided to go back to college and earn my teaching degree. For one of my classes, I was required to do classroom observation. After watching a local news feature on Mr. Hale, my wife sent me the video and said, 'You must contact him. He’s exactly the kind of teacher you want to be.' She was right. I was awestruck by his enthusiasm, creativity and commitment to excellence. I immediately emailed him, and we’ve been on an incredible journey ever since. One thing I forgot to mention: I’m Caucasian."
Because the majority of his students come from underprivileged homes, Mr. Hale has an insatiable need to provide for them when no one else can or will. Before the coronavirus pandemic, he raised thousands of dollars to help improve his school and the community around it. For that, as well as his impassioned teaching style, he appeared on the Kelly Clarkson Show and received the Queen Smith Award for the top teacher in an urban school district in the country.
"When COVID-19 hit, Mr. Hale stepped up his game and took me along for the ride," said Dontos. "He recognized that online teaching wasn’t working because his students had limited, and in some cases, no access to a computer. We raised money to buy sight word and reading packs for the students so they at least had something to continue learning. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Hale coordinated with his college alma mater to donate laptops to each and every one of his students. When handed them out to the parents, along with additional school supplies Mr. Hale also had donated, their deep-felt looks of joy and appreciation they had on their faces are something I’ll never forget. The mayor of Dallas was also impressed and honored Mr. Hale with a certificate of special recognition."
"Needless to say, I owe a lot to Mr. Hale," said Dontos. "Despite all the darkness in the world, he saw a light in me, took me under his wing, and continues to show me firsthand what a teacher can and should be. If I could, I would give him every teaching award there is, as well as several humanitarian ones."