Teachers are classroom all-stars that make a difference in the lives of students and their communities. You've chosen 30 representatives who will be recognized at this year's All-Star Game® at Target Field in Minnesota.
Click below to meet them, and tune in to see them live on FOX, July 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT.
From the time she started school until this very moment, the one constant for Elizabeth Zipp was her studies. As an undergrad, she spent time studying in Cuba. There, she realized her desire to help children take control of their lives and not let an impoverished background determine their future. The experience still motivates her. For instance, Liz helped provide food and clothing for the family of two of her students, young Navajo sisters. While they're no longer her students, she still receives texts from them, catching her up with their accomplishments. Regardless of the challenges a day may bring, Liz is always in her classroom excited and ready for her students to arrive. Each quarter, the Diamondbacks fan helps her kids to grow and learn, helping her students to display this growth on their district benchmarks. Her consistency and passion pay huge dividends in her students' futures, and they love her for it. Liz started her teaching career through her acceptance into a national teaching program in the 2011-12 school year. Since then, she has been recognized for her commitment to her students and to her school. <br><strong>Why Elizabeth roots for the D-backs:</strong> "I love the D-backs because, as a team, they embody the characteristics that I value and that I try to teach to my students, so that they grow as empowered young adults -- perseverance, collaboration and integrity!"
Judy Stewart has a passion for teaching, and she's always ready step up to the plate when asked. In 33 years, she's taught almost every grade and subject at Oak Grove Elementary, from second grade and computer class to EIP and ESOL. She's even taught the children of her students. She has changed positions, taken on new students and even given up her class in order to better provide for her students. Judy is no stranger to sacrifice. Her career in education began when she graduated from Kennesaw College in 1980. but the Judy's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at that time and Judy became her primary caretaker, often not sleeping for days. Unfortunately, her mom didn't live to see Judy marry her husband Scott and raise two children, both becoming teachers themselves. This Braves fan has the utmost respect of her peers. And from the gifts and visits of former students, to the dances and silly songs and hugs and tears of joy shared with grateful current students, on any day, her influence and inspiration can be witnessed in so many ways. <br><strong>Why Judy roots for the Braves:</strong> "I was born a Georgia girl, raised a Braves fan."
Thomas Arentz teaches English and Latin at Sparrows Point High School, but he does much more, making an impact on individual students, the school and the entire community. Over the course of his 16-year career, this Orioles fan has given students hope and determination. When one of them faces a rough day or tough life decision, he is there for guidance and support. Thomas has sponsored several extracurricular activities (Student Council, Future Educators of America) and sponsored the Class of 2008. Even when he goes home, his day is not finished. Thomas also teaches evening classes at the Community College of Baltimore County and is a dedicated and supportive fan of his children's athletic teams, having coached both of his sons' baseball and soccer teams for many years. Thomas is very involved with his church, having taught at both Sunday school and vacation bible school for many years. He is the council president for Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Rosedale, Md. It is Thomas' goal that all learn something through their interactions with him. He currently is studying Educational Leadership at Towson University, in the hopes of becoming an administrator and impacting student lives in this new way. <br><strong>Why Thomas roots for the Orioles:</strong> "I have always loved the Orioles, from watching the games on TV to playing as an Oriole in Little League. Now, it is a great way for our family to spend time together."
Playing baseball was one of the only things that kept Paul Richardson motivated as a kid in the inner city. He spent his time going to school and then to baseball practice, and then to the job he worked nights to support his mother. Paul went on to college, where he played baseball all four years, and graduated with a degree in social work. He then earned a Master's degree in learning behavior disorders. Paul has been teaching for seven years, and for the past three years, this Red Sox fan has worked at Crawford Middle School. Most recently, he has worked as a math special education teacher (though he has taught nearly every subject in every grade from first to eighth). Paul has consistently raised his students' test scores two to three grade levels each year. He coaches the Crawford Middle School math and academic teams and has also coached baseball and football teams of kids of various ages. Paul is a great role model and father figure for many of his students. He is living proof that it is possible to follow your dreams and that nothing can hold one back. <br><strong>Why Paul roots for the Red Sox:</strong> "Though I may be miles away today, my roots were firmly planted in Boston at birth, and my heart has always been full of Red Sox Nation pride!"
Regina Kinasz graduated from Loyola University in 1980 with a B.S. in education. She began teaching seventh- and eighth-grade math and science at Our Lady of Victory School. From 1985-2004, she raised five children but continued volunteering by teaching after school programs, coaching and fundraising. She returned to the professional setting in 2004 as a part-time math teacher at St. Emily Elementary School. Her success was so impactful that she was immediately offered a full-time position, where has been teaching ever since. Regina began the "accelerated algebra" class where record numbers of students were placed into advanced math classes as freshmen in high school. Regina's dedication to the school contributed to St. Emily receiving the National Blue Ribbon award in 2011 for the first time in its history. Her seventh-grade mathematics standardized test scores are 36 percent higher than the national average, ranking in the top 15 percent. In 2014, she received the Distinguished Service Award from the Archdiocese of Chicago, and in 2011, the Shining Star Award from the Village of Mt. Prospect. Regina formed the St. Emily Scholastic Bowl team, and the Cubs fan is even responsible for obtaining new uniforms for the school's athletic teams. <br><strong>Why Regina roots for the Cubs:</strong> "Following the tradition set by my dad and brother, I grew up watching the Cubs every day, including my favorites such as Ernie Banks, Billy Williams and Glenn Beckert, listening to the "Hey, hey" of Jack Brickhouse, and attending Ladies Day games with my family at the Friendly Confines of Wrigley Field."
As a student at UCLA, Garrett Lim met teachers who changed his thinking about education. They encouraged him to learn, not just study. Garrett became a chemist, but later followed his passion to teaching chemistry, which is what he's been doing for the last eight years. He frequently relates his experiences in the chemistry industry to the classroom to help his students better understand chemistry's practical uses. He teaches a variety of levels of the subject, including honors, international baccalaureate and advanced placement. Ninety-eight percent of his AP students pass; because of performance such as that, Garrett received the 2013 University of Chicago Outstanding Educator Award. His dedication to his students is unmatched. This White Sox fan is the teacher adviser for Walnut High School's Environmental Care Global Awareness (ECGA) Club and he has won many other distinctions, including the George Hauge Memorial Travel Award, Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction and Science Division Teacher of the year. Garrett is also a musician who has played in several concerts benefitting the Red Cross and Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. <br><strong>Why Garrett roots for the White Sox:</strong> "When I started watching baseball in the early 1990s, something drew me to Frank Thomas and how he approached the art of hitting, so much so that he became my favorite player. And since he played for the White Sox, the White Sox became my favorite team. I have been rooting for them since!"
Rachel Blanks attended college on several scholarships -- the National Coca Cola, Toyota and the Eddie Robinson Scholarship, to name a few -- graduating with a bachelor's in business and a Master's in educational leadership. She is passionate about empowering youth to be successful. She received a $10,000 grant for her bakery business, and after gathering other young entrepreneurs in her network, designed a Young Entrepreneurs program to teach basic business principles helping kids develop their own small businesses in a micro-society setting. She has organized speakers ranging from health food experts to a federal judge and collected over $1,000 in grants for Place Based curriculum. Rachel established the fitness and nutrition club for the 21st century and was recognized as the "educator working for you" by the local news. She was Employee of the Year for the entire state of Florida in 2011. Rachel was recently diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and hospitalized for an extensive stay. But she called her students every day, helping with work and making sure they didn't miss a beat! This Reds fan sees every student as a blank canvas that, with hard work and dedication, can become a priceless work of art. <br><strong>Why Rachel roots for the Reds:</strong> "The Reds have been a part of life since I was 2 years old. Their steady presence in the community and the schools proved to me that they truly value the fans. I'm a fan of the Reds because they are a fan of our community!"
Jacqui is a single mother of two that struggled through college working full time to raise her children and pay for school. She is a strong advocate for children, and she passes her love of art to every child she teaches. In a short time, she's accomplished so much: She teaches the lessons she does with the children at school to residents of a nearby nursing home. She has her elementary school students decorate boxes for pizza night in tandem with a community pizzeria. Jacqui leads students in creating pinwheels for Pinwheels for Peace and leads art show nights at the nearby mall. Jacqui teaches the students in traditional and new media, instructing the children about how to use digital devices in their art. Jacqui is being nominated for Teacher of the Year in Mentor, Ohio. Jacqui has an admirable commitment to art and children. <br><strong>Why Jacqui roots for the Indians:</strong> "I was born and raised a Tribe fan and will always be one because that's the Cleveland way."
Cheryl Beckwith is the kind of teacher you hope your child has at least once. After more than 40 years teaching, you could say she has inspired an entire generation. Cheryl makes learning joyful. She saw a need for history books written at an elementary-school level, so she wrote a short biography of a historical Colorado figure, geared to the interests and reading level of her third- and fourth-grade students. In 2010, The Today Show hosted a contest for elementary school classes to win a trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As part of it, students chose to do a service project. To support a classmate recovering from cancer, the class baked dog biscuits which were sold to raise money for service dogs for other kids with cancer. The class won, and Cheryl deserves a lot of the credit. She is known for her wacky wardrobe, with an outfit for every occasion. She wears scuba gear to "dive into learning." She dresses like an old-fashioned schoolmarm when teaching history. This Rockies fan's students understand that she puts a lot of effort into their education and that they should put the same effort into it. <br><strong>Why Cheryl roots for the Rockies:</strong> "I am a native Coloradoan who grew up watching the Denver Bears and then fell in love with our own Colorado Rockies who stand a mile above the rest. Go ROCKIES!!!"
For the last 26 years, Michael Sinclair has taught physics, calculus, geology and astronomy at the Kalamazoo Area Math and Science Center (KAMSC). Michael has earned many awards: he was a 2013 Kennedy Center/Stephen Sondheim Inspirational Teacher award recipient and the 2006 Michigan High School Science Teacher of the Year. He has been recognized 50 times with the Kalamazoo County Excellence in Education's Significant Educator Award over the past 24 years. On the first day of class, students left in tears because of how hard he promised the class would be. On the last day, they left in tears because of his amazing teaching. Through the course of one's school career, it seems there are few teachers who truly care about what they are teaching and those they're teaching it to. Michael has so much passion for his job. His energy is contagious and students learn better in his classroom than anywhere else. He sees the scope of his work and how it can affect the lives of our future leaders. Michael deserves this honor. <br><strong>Why Michael roots for the Tigers:</strong> "I have always been a Detroit Tigers fan; first through my dad -- who grew up religiously following the Tigers in the 1940s -- and then on my own (especially after their stunning 1984 World Series championship)."
After more than 40 years, Carol Liberman is teaching her final year of middle-school English and history. She earned a Master's in education with Phi Beta Kappa honors and started her career working in the inner city, later moving between two Jewish private schools for the next forty years. Her accomplishments can only be measured by the success of her students, many of who have gone on to win national writing awards and attend Ivy League schools. She's won multiple Teacher of the Year honors, was asked to participate in a national teachers mentoring program and deserves to be nominated for sainthood for teaching middle school for so long. Carol hasn't had a storybook life and yet she never complains. When her husband had a heart attack, Carol raised two young kids on a teacher's salary. She's been a great inspiration, and for the small, tight Jewish community in Houston, her retirement will be a changing of the guard. She is a die-hard Astros fan with a picture of her son, daughter and Jose Cruz proudly displayed in her classroom. There couldn't be greater honor for her than to represent her Astros at the All-Star Game. <br><strong>Why Carol roots for the Astros:</strong> "I am an Astros fan because of all of the amazing memories -- from Mike Scott's clinching no-hitter, to the great march through the playoffs in 2004 and 2005, to my kids' picture with Jose Cruz as Astro Buddies. I am also a fan because of the neverending hope that the Astros will one day bring home a World Series championship."
Megan Coone started her teaching career in the early 2000s at Thomas Hart Benton Elementary, a low-income school where she taught kindergarten and touched many children's lives. Megan is active in the district, participating in programs such as the Sunshine Committee, which collects gifts and flowers for families and staff who may be experiencing difficult times, and the social studies committee, which seeks new and fun ways to help kids learn. She's done all of this while working toward her Master's degree in education. Some of her students live in shelters and face other hardships. In 2012, a child in her class had just moved from a local shelter into an apartment. The family had very little, so Megan and her husband donated a children's bedroom set to them. Megan has received district awards for her classroom accomplishments since she began teaching. She has many talents, but what comes to mind first is love! She is someone who has such a love and passion for kids and learning. <br><strong>Why Megan roots for the Royals:</strong> "I am a fan of the Kansas City Royals because I grew up watching them and still do every chance I get."
Blake Smith began his career in education working as a maintenance man at a preschool for the blind. That's when this Angels fan realized his passion for working with kids with special needs. He earned his degree in child and adolescent studies and received credentials for working with special-needs students. In 2009, he joined Valley High School as a teacher for students with severe disabilities. Blake now holds a Master's degree in special education and is working toward a Ph.D. in education. Blake founded the Inclusive Club at Valley, which encourages students to develop meaningful relationships with each other. Fundraising pays for activities such as school dances (tux and dress rentals, tickets, transportation, hair and make-up), graduation and community-based instruction trips. He works to improve the lives of everyone around him and ensures students have the same opportunities as others around them. He constantly applies for grants and scholarships for his students. <br><strong>Why Blake roots for the Angels:</strong> "Jim Abbott's quote best sums up why I am a lifelong Angels fan: "Some of you may know that my career statistics weren't that great. There were some incredible highlights and some agonizing low lights. The truth is, I won't go to the Hall of Fame. But if a career can be measured by special moments, lessons learned and a connection with people then I would stack mine up with anyone's. Maybe there is an obligation to share. To try and learn from the experiences life puts us through." -Jim Abbott"
Extreme poverty did not keep Isagani Celzo from fulfilling his dream of becoming a teacher. While working as janitor, he earned an academic scholarship and graduated magna cum laude with a degree in mathematics at age 20. Isagani, a National Board Certified math teacher, is an exceptional educator who cares passionately about his students and the community. He is a founding member of School of Social Justice where he currently teaches geometry and AP calculus. He is a catalyst to educational transformation in a neighborhood that struggles with poverty, drug use and crime. To bolster mathematics achievement, he analyzed student data and designed the Predictor Model, a statistical correlation which is instrumental in the school's higher CAHSEE passing rate. His students' 2013 state assessment scores ranked the Best CST Summative HS Math out of 71 LAUSD-ISIC high schools. Isagani's focus on closing the achievement gap and raising academic achievement for all of his students has had an extraordinarily positive impact on the school community. He also holds leadership roles as mentor teacher, data and intervention lead, teacher growth and development cycle lead, math PLC lead, and as an active member of the governing board. <br><strong>Why Isagani roots for the Dodgers:</strong> "My students' love for baseball and my commitment to develop a connection with them encouraged me to become a Dodgers fan since I moved to Los Angeles in 2007."
As a youth, David Voytek volunteered with the elderly. He loved to help people and had a flair for creating art. In high school, he designed and sewed a dress for a heavyset girl. She wore his design and felt like the most beautiful girl at the prom. This became the basis for a television program. He went on to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) in New York City where his gold-medal-winning designs were published in Brides Magazine. He went on to teach to continue to help others. David teaches in schools for disadvantaged children. His interest in reading took him from the third-grade chair to becoming a media specialist with an impact on the wider population of children throughout the entire school district. He earned his Master's degree in education with a perfect 4.0 GPA while working a 12-hour day. David organizes the annual trip to Washington, as well as fundraising activities like car washes, a garden club and painting hall murals throughout the school. The Marlins fan has produced award-winning student videos, telecast district-wide, that have earned thousands of dollars to benefit the school. <br><strong>Why David roots for the Marlins:</strong> "I support the Miami Marlins because they are my Florida home team and are role models to many of my students who can see individuals from diverse ethnic backgrounds working together to be the best in MLB, as well as being ardent supporters of education through the Miami Marlins education and arts programs."
Eric Vander Loop and his wife Karen both teach at Woodland School. His parents are both hard-working, inspiring, honest and humble, and that describes Eric, too. His three passions are family, teaching and baseball. Above and beyond the core subjects, he gives his students the mentality that they can make a difference in the world, even in the fifth grade. Eric has a Master's in education and has been in teaching for 15 years. A Brewers fan, he has coached high school baseball for seven years. This summer, he will qualify to teach other teachers to re-certify and re-energize. Mr. VL started a River Studies Summer Fishing Program 15 years ago for youth in the district. He has raised funds every year so most of the materials are provided free of charge. The Unless program was started six years ago after hearing that a student's mother and Mr. VL's friend both had stage 4 lung cancer. The students asked Mr. VL what they could do to help. The Unless motto comes from Dr. Suess: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." Mr VL still leads "Unless" and has raised $86,000 to date! <br><strong>Why Eric roots for the Brewers:</strong> "I am a Brewers fan because I was fortunate enough to grow up watching and listening to the magical Milwaukee teams of the 1980s. My dad and I would spend our summer days listening to Bob Uecker while we fished on Lake Winnebago. It is cool that my 5- and 8-year-old boys now do the same thing with me!"
With nearly four decades of teaching experience, high school calculus teacher and Minnesota Twins fan Neil Johnson is devoted to both math and sports. In fact, he continues to hold the title of Shakopee's only softball coach and has coached softball longer than any other coach in the state. He has also served as the math department chairman for 20 years, and in 2008, he started a pilot program that allowed calculus students to receive college credit from the University of Minnesota. Beyond the classroom, Neil was instrumental in building a softball complex, organizing community groups to help build fields, press boxes, dugouts and bleachers. He also created both the Shakopee Girls Basketball Association and Girls Softball Association. On and off the field, this teacher supports his students as well as his coworkers, often acting as a mentor to new math teachers. That's why it's no wonder that his students describe him as "the best math teacher I have ever had." <br><strong>Why Neil roots for the Twins:</strong> "I have been a Twins fan since they came to Minnesota in the early '60s, when I would listen to them on the radio."
Renan Ebeid has a degree in physical education, specializing in sports medicine. She has two Master's degrees, one in education and one in administration. She was raised to always remember to give back to her community, and she does. She raised more than $7 million for the school to upgrade facilities. She designed a new fitness center to encourage students to live a healthier lifestyle. She created an academic program to help students meet scholarship criteria and classes to help guide students to careers after graduation. Renan is the life of Lincoln. She is like the students' mom away from home. They admire her and are always looking to her for advice. She always makes sure they have breakfast and reminds them of the importance of eating healthy. Renan has received a number of proclamations for her work at Lincoln from the borough president, local councilman and senator. She received the Educator of the Week award from the teacher's union. This Mets fan was recognized in the local newspaper as one of the top 40 successful women under the age of 40. She was named the Most Influential Staff Member of the Year by the Lincoln students and community. <br><strong>Why Renan roots for the Mets:</strong> "I am a Mets fan because I grew up watching the Mets with my dad. He was a huge Mets fan. He was at the 1969 World Series, and we watched the 1986 World Series together!"
Lifelong Yankees fan William Termine has been a member of the New York City Board of Education for 18 years. During that time, he has worked as a paraprofessional, classroom teacher, health teacher, physical-education teacher and part-time dean. Pursuing his passion for fitness, in 2005, William introduced a program called CHAMPS (Cooperative Healthy Motivated Positive Students) where he acted as coach, supervisor and facilitator. It has since flourished exponentially. William is a known face in the neighborhood where he grew up and still lives. Students see him on their way to church or the grocery store and in the hallway at school. He coaches and teaches fitness classes for kids, even creating friendly neighborhood competition by organizing games of flag football, soccer, basketball, hockey, girls soccer, girls basketball and co-ed softball. Children look forward to the games and the camaraderie he creates. William has helped children lose weight, create fitness goals and make healthier choices, and he believes that sports can teach us many lessons: how to handle life's challenges, reach for the stars, never give up, and most importantly, to respect yourself and others. <br><strong>Why William roots for the Yankees:</strong> "The New York Yankees organization prides itself on honor and tradition. These are qualities I respect. This is why I am a Yankees fan!"
Keith Debro is a special-education teacher and Oakland A's fan who chose to stay and teach in Oakland because he believes that all kids deserve a quality education, regardless of privilege. He has inspired many in his 25 years of teaching, and has developed one of the most inclusive programs at his high school: a mentoring program that runs both during and after school at two local elementary schools. Keith believes there's no better way to provide community service than mentoring future Oakland Tech students. He attends all PTSA meetings, acting as an advocate representing his students' voices, a gesture his students and their parents greatly appreciate. One parent said of Keith, "You saved my son." He is known for giving second chances, and even parents outside his classroom have come to him seeking advice and direction. Keith has been honored by Channel 4 for making a difference in his community, being recognized for going the extra mile and for taking the time to invest in the future of his own hometown, Oakland. <br><strong>Why Keith roots for the A's:</strong> "My grandmother introduced me to baseball at age four, and 10 years later, I attended the very first game ever played by the A's in Oakland -- a 4-1 loss to Baltimore. That was April 17, 1968, and I've remained a fan ever since."
Nominated for the Teacher of the Year award four times in four different schools, Gina Rexrode has been recognized by colleagues and students alike as an educational difference-maker. Over her 14 years as a teacher, Gina has employed every tool at her disposal to make sure her students' learning experience is a memorable one. This includes dressing up as a 100-year-old lady, Mary Poppins, a mad scientist and a butterfly to dancing or playing basketball. She has also made her mark by establishing her school's first science fair, a composition book program that is mailed globally and returned to her students at year's end and by teaching special evening and summer classes in her district. On top of all of this, she also takes time to make sure that students who need extra attention and nurturing receive it. In short, this Phillies fan is an educational all-star. <br><strong>Why Gina roots for the Phillies:</strong> "Growing up, we didn't have a choice, so I have loved the Phillies since I was old enough to know what a baseball is!"
Nicole Dow-Macosky is an inspiration to her students as well as her community. She has always focused on helping students, both in the classroom and out. After losing her mother to breast cancer, Nicole started Project Chemo Crochet, an initiative that received media attention and pulled an entire community together, both locally and nationally. People from 39 states crocheted and donated blankets to those suffering from cancer. A teacher for 11 years, Nicole has written multiple curricula for courses, was a year-one Classrooms for the Future teacher in 2006 and wrote successful grants for her district. This year, she was given a Champion of Learning award by her district as a top teacher. She is now leading her peers in a Hybrid Learning initiative and has been asked by industry experts to share her math instructional videos online. Nicole has also helped students and their families in "Be a part of the conversation," focusing on drug prevention and awareness. In terms of giving back to the community, this is one Pirates fan who would make Roberto Clemente proud. <br><strong>Why Nicole roots for the Pirates:</strong> "I am a fan of the Pittsburgh Pirates because I love their passion, intensity and rich history."
A native of San Diego and lifelong Padres fan, Tim Gilliland first discovered he had a natural talent for working with children while coaching youth soccer as a high school student. After graduating from San Diego State University, he took a teaching job in rural Arizona, and 36 years later, he's still going strong. A countywide Teacher of the Year finalist, Tim has mentored pre-service teachers for more than 20 years. He was one of the first teachers in his district to embrace the creative use of technology, and both he and his students have received national recognition for their work. His fifth-grade class is currently working with their first-grade buddies to document the life stories of seniors in assisted living facilities. He has also pioneered the use of reading assistance dogs in schools. Tim believes in giving back to the community and does so by working with Guide Dogs for the Blind. He also helped established Tails of Joy, a pet partner program that provides therapeutic visits to patients. Back in the classroom, Tim has the audacity to believe that kids can figure hard stuff out. And because he believes it, so do they. <br><strong>Why Tim roots for the Padres:</strong> "I have my dad to thank for making me a Padres fan, telling me stories about players like Ted Williams and Luke Easter that he'd seen at the old Lane Field just a stone's throw from PETCO Park."
As an educator for 17 years, one thing is perfectly clear: Tracy Ruiz loves kids. She is the first teacher to arrive in the morning and the last to leave. But to truly understand Tracy is to witness what she does for others. For example, one of her students was born with a heart defect, which inspired Tracy to become a camp counselor for kids with heart disease. This strengthened her bond with her student and helped her better understand the young lady's challenges. One Christmas, Tracy chose three students with challenging home lives and gave them a Christmas they would not have had otherwise. For 12 days, she secretly gave each student a small gift -- purchased with her own money -- wrapped and delivered anonymously. It was unimportant to her that the students knew who gave the gifts, only that they knew that someone cared about them. This past year, Tracy started the Winter Wishes program. Under Tracy's leadership, students and staff came together to grant hundreds of wishes, ranging from a warm winter coat for a sibling to prom tickets to deserving seniors. From individual interactions to large-scale rallies and events, Tracy has been the driving force for a culture change at school. <br><strong>Why Tracy roots for the Giants:</strong> "My love for the Giants began with Dave Dravecky, as I followed his inspirational journey, and today, there's no place I'd rather be -- school night or summer evening -- than surrounded by thousands of fans, all cheering for the best team in baseball."
Kevin Zelko has taught special education for elementary school students for more than 11 years. He is not only a giving person, but a huge fan of the Seattle Mariners as well, and at one time even worked as a concession vendor at Mariners games. This year, Kevin combined his passion for teaching and his passion for sports by launching a fundraiser to get every kid in his school a sports jersey. Teaching in a low-income area, he noticed that not every kid could afford to show their team pride on jersey day, so he took his idea to social media and raised $25,000 in 10 days to get every student in the school a Seahawks jersey for the Super Bowl. Kevin has impacted countless children's lives with his patience, understanding and support. In 2011, he received the Symetra Heroes in the Classroom Award for his dedication to the field of special education. He has gone above and beyond to not only affect kids' lives educationally, but also instill a sense of pride in community through sports. <br><strong>Why Kevin roots for the Mariners:</strong> "I am a passionate Mariners fan because the team brings Seattle together like nothing else!"
Hank Kauffman taught math for 52 years in the very same high school, starting in 1961. He's been awarded an outstanding teaching award from the University of Chicago and is in the Who's Who Among America's Teachers. Hank's impact is best revealed by the fact that there were more interruptions in his classes than any other. A few short breaks at unannounced times in nearly every class session; when you're an incredible educator and even better friend, there's bound to be interruptions from former students, coming back just to say "Hey Hank," to their favorite teacher. They don't mean to interrupt; they just wanted to say "hi" to their friend, see that smile of his and hear his caring voice. One former student changed careers to become a math teacher himself at age 50. He got a teaching job in an inner-city Chicago high school, but when he struggled with the lessons, he reached out to Hank, who walked him through the math and the best ways to teach it. For weeks on end, he would help this former student. Just as he had done so many years in the classroom, Hank wasn't just teaching math, he was instilling confidence. <br><strong>Why Hank roots for the Cardinals:</strong> "I am a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals because I live in St. Louis and because my friends and family have been huge Cardinals fans all of my life!"
In Alison Kearney's relatively short five years of teaching, she has quickly become one of the most successful and loved teachers at her school. She teaches reading and language arts to a wide range of students with an advanced class, an intensive class and an on-level class. Students respect and admire her, and they often continue to keep in touch after graduating. For Alison's students, her love of running and sports has inspired them to start healthy habits at home. This Tampa Bay Rays fan also coaches the girls' volleyball team, and because she is so well-loved, students clamor to try out for her team. Even students with issues at home open up to her because they trust and respect her, and she never fails to inspire them to lead healthier lives and respect each other. <br><strong>Why Alison roots for the Rays:</strong> "I'm a fan of the Rays because their energy, humor and camaraderie on and off the field make baseball fun to watch!"
Brenda Medina is a fourth-grade bilingual teacher and Texas Rangers fan. She embodies the true definition of what a teacher should be, often staying late and working through lunch. At one time, she struggled with the very same issue many of her fourth-grade students have: growing up in a Spanish-speaking home and learning English as a second language. Her students connect and relate to her, and she takes time to help their parents to translate school documents or even help with things like completing job applications. Brenda's students know her for being a positive, upbeat person, and she takes in stride the demands put on her as a teacher and a leader. Every year, she gets a new group of students, and every year they love her and want to do their best for her. She truly brings out the best in her students and her colleagues, and is an inspiration to many. <br><strong>Why Brenda roots for the Rangers:</strong> "I am a fan of the Texas Rangers because that was a team our family grew up watching, but I became more of a fan when one of our very own, Nolan Ryan, joined the Texas Rangers in 1989."
As a second-generation Canadian, Rolland grew up learning English as a second language and struggling at school. Those academic challenges inspired him to set goals and persist to reach them. It also helped him develop standards of care, trust, respect and integrity. When one of Rolland's students started the school year depressed, troubled and uninterested in school, the care, compassion and trust he showed made all the difference. Rolland worked very hard to connect with the student to ensure that he was learning and excelling in all aspects of school life. Rolland collaborates with his colleagues to help build and maintain a positive school climate. He has worked for anti-bullying efforts and is part of exciting transformation in the school system in the area of 21st-century teaching and learning. With his knowledge and experience integrating technology into the classroom, he is a role model for other teachers. Rolland has received best practice awards from his teachers association, a school Staff Recognition award, a Teacher of Excellence award and a Schools of Excellence award, which provided iPads for students with autism. He is a team leader of the Ministry of Education's Teacher Learning and Leadership program, which provided funding to help him meet the needs of all his students with the use of technology. <br><strong>Why Rolland roots for the Blue Jays:</strong> "I am a Toronto Blue Jays fan because they are true North, strong and free. They are Canada's team!"
It probably comes as no surprise that Chad Wright's favorite baseball team, the Nationals, plays in our nation's capital. After all, he's been teaching government for 10 years. When it comes to teaching his students, Chad likes to think outside the box. He is very focused on bringing new technology into the classroom to help his students learn. He's invited Congressional candidates to talk to his classes and also taken students to the Capitol to see Congress in action. During the 2012 presidential election, he set up a mock election at the school that drew the attention of local papers. But it's not all about government and politics in Chad's class. He actually asks each of his students to go out and complete 10 hours of service learning and community service as part of his class requirements. His passion for teaching extends to the entire world, as he challenges his students to learn as much as they can about other countries and cultures. Overall, Chad is an amazing teacher, with a great sense of humor, who can really unite a classroom and school. <br><strong>Why Chad roots for the Nationals:</strong> "The Washington Nationals have brought my family and friends together through our passion for the game of baseball."
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. The PEOPLE All-Star Teachers Contest is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States, the District of Columbia, Department of Defense school overseas and Canada (excluding residents of the Province of Quebec) who are at least thirteen (13) years of age as of 3/10/14. To enter and view complete Official Rules, which govern this Contest, visit www.allstarteachers.com. Contest begins at 12:01 a.m. Eastern Time (ET) on 3/10/14 and ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 6/29/14. Entry period ends at 11:59 p.m. (ET) on 5/6/14. Void in Quebec and where prohibited by law. Sponsor: PEOPLE Magazine. Major League Baseball trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Major League Baseball Properties, Inc. Visit MLB.com. Target trademarks and copyrights are used with permission of Target Properties. Visit Target.com.