Eric Hale is the first Black man named Texas Teacher of the Year: ‘I’m not the first to deserve it’

“I’m the first to win it, but I’m not the first to deserve it,” he said.

Hale teaches first and second grade at David G. Burnet Elementary School in Dallas, where 98 percent of students live below the national poverty line.

For Hale, being an educator is about far more than teaching letters and numbers.

“I am a teacher because I’m chasing the ghost of the educator I needed as a child,” he said. “My mission is to make sure that children that are going through poverty and traumatic experiences get the hope they need.”

Hale’s own childhood trauma steeled him, he said, supplying him with the necessary tools to reach out to children living through similar circumstances.

Growing up in West Phoenix, Ariz., Hale’s troubles began when he was 6. His stepfather’s mental health challenges spurred erratic and violent attacks toward his mother and the children. Hale and his

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