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

Read More

Fort Worth man builds community through Special Olympics

When the coronavirus pandemic hit North Texas, Fort Worth area Special Olympics organizers were left wondering how athletes would cope with stay-at-home orders and the loss of their sporting communities.

Typically the spring and summer months are filled with Special Olympics events. The competitions thrive on close personal interactions that provide a social network for the athletes, their families and the volunteers. With the virus limiting gatherings, like all sports, Special Olympics had to get creative.

Enter Everett King.

“He was at the forefront of saying, ‘We need to do something for our athletes,’” said Dalton Hill, an associate executive director at Special Olympics Texas.

King had been a special education teacher in the Northwest school district when he started volunteering as Special Olympics coach in 2014. He quickly gained a reputation as being one of the most engaging and positive volunteers even before he became the full-time program director

Read More