YouTube / TED
YouTube / TED

5 Terrific Teachers

YouTube / TED
YouTube / TED

Teachers are heroes. Without teachers, I wouldn't be able to read, write, or bring you this list of wonderful people. Read on.

1. Kathy Pitt, Fifth Grade Teacher

Kathy Pitt figured out a simple way to find out which students in her fifth grade class were struggling, being ostracized, being bullied, or generally needed more of her attention. Every Friday, Pitt asks her students to nominate one of their peers whom they think is “an exceptional classmate.” The nominations, along with answers to a few similar questions, are submitted privately to her on notecards.

Pitt then identifies the students who receive the fewest nominations, or who themselves are unwilling or unable to nominate others. It’s a simple indicator of issues that aren’t always visible to the teacher when she's standing at the front of the class. She says she has been using the technique “Every single Friday afternoon since Columbine.” A mother of a student in Pitt's class brought national attention to Pitt when she blogged about the practice earlier this year.

Pitt teaches in Naples, Florida. You can see photos of her classroom in a gallery from the Naples Daily News.

2. Kent Knappenberger, Music Teacher

Kent Knappenberger is the winner of the 2014 Music Educator Award, presented by The Recording Academy and the Grammy Foundation. Judges received thousands of nominations, but Knappenberger stood out -- and not just for his amazing beard. He said, "I think it's my job to try to approach children in a way that I can try to find something musical in them. And sometimes in the kid you think shouldn't have some musical gifting, if you start looking -- wow! It's there! And amazing things happen."

Knappenberger, known as "Mr. K." to his students, also runs a farm with his wife. Of the farm, he said, "I think I went through a midlife crisis a couple of years ago and said 'I need to have a cow.'" In addition to having a cow, he and his wife have nine kids, eight of whom are adopted.

If you know a music teacher who deserves recognition, you can nominate him or her online.

3. John Masterson, Social Studies Teacher

In January, John Masterson convinced a boy who brought a shotgun into his New Mexico school to put it down. The 12-year-old shooter had already injured two students in a crowded gym when Masterson intervened.

NBC News reported:

[Masterson] was facing away from the shooter, and the shooter away from him, when the first shot was fired. The teacher thought it was a firecracker, [Gov. Susana Martinez] said.

The teacher wheeled around and saw the young man fire more shots before he pointed the gun at Masterson, she said. The teacher talked to him and urged him to put the gun down.

The shooter put the gun down and raised his hands, and Masterson put him up against a wall, the governor said. Just then, an off-duty state police officer arrived — he was dropping his own son off at the school — and they contained the student.

“I'm still the same person,” Masterson said in one interview. “I just had something happen. An event that happened and I don't feel like it changed me.” In addition to teaching Social Studies, Masterson also coaches soccer and track in Roswell, New Mexico.

4. Dr. Rita Pierson, Teacher

Dr. Rita Pierson was a teacher her entire adult life, teaching elementary school, junior high, special ed, and more. Her parents were educators, her grandparents were educators, and Pierson herself began teaching in 1972, so she has some experience in the field. Last year she wrote for The Huffington Post:

“Teachers don't make a lot of money. They are usually not deemed worthy of news coverage unless there is a scandal or a strike. Most of the time, their major accomplishments are shared only with colleagues and family members and not the media. The celebration is often cut short by some catastrophe the next day. Yet, in spite of the highs and lows, I cannot think of another profession that brings both joy and challenge on a daily basis.”

Pierson is on this list not because of a scandal, a strike, or a catastrophe -- but because she was an inspiring, dedicated teacher. She spent four decades in the classroom, and in 2012 she gave the TED Talk above, which has been viewed more than 2.7 million times. She passed away in 2013.

5. Taylor Mali, English Teacher/Slam Poet

"I make parents see their children for who they are, and who they can be," says Taylor Mali in his performance of "What Teachers Make," a poem about his teaching career in New York City. Have a look:

After nine years teaching, Mali is now a full-time poet, speaker, and author. He's all over YouTube, and he has apparently inspired a lot of people to teach. From his website:

[Mali's] 12-year long Quest for One Thousand Teachers, completed in April of 2012, helped create 1,000 new teachers through “poetry, persuasion, and perseverance,” an achievement Mali commemorated by donating 12″ of his hair to the American Cancer Society.

Here's one more nice performance by Mali, set in kinetic typography:

15 Organizations Helping Women Around the World

Organizations supporting women and promoting equality and fairness in wages, in behavior, and with opportunities have spent years putting women's rights at the forefront of their missions. In honor of International Women's Day, held annually on March 8, we've compiled a list of organizations that are fueling this societal change for the better. Check out the institutions that are helping fight for what's fair, no matter where women are in the world.


A woman walks with her child

Since 2007, this advocacy group has been empowering under-privileged women in Uganda by offering business training and access to microloans to help facilitate their professional independence. The group's contributions have emboldened Ugandans, with five women affiliated with WGEF's programs running for—and winning—political office in 2016.


A Center for Reproductive Rights illustration
Center for Reproductive Rights

Supporting a woman's right to make decisions about her own body is the focus of this legal consortium, which has had impact on local and international laws. They've had influence over reproductive health policies in Asia, Africa, and the U.S., and helped shed light on an oppressive abortion ban in El Salvador that's led to women being jailed for stillbirths. Their efforts on behalf of "Las 17," 17 Salvadoran women accused of having abortions, has seen several women released from prison; the efforts are ongoing.


The Women for Women International logo
Women for Women International

This nonprofit seeks to support women displaced or marginalized by conflict and oppression in eight foreign territories including Iraq and Rwanda. Many of their efforts are education-based, facilitating classes and finding opportunities for graduates. Currently, the group is offering psychosocial and educational resources to Syrian women in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, with a goal of reaching over 3000 women in the next three years.


A classroom facilitated by School Girls Unite
School Girls Unite

This nonprofit tackles education discrimination among young women in developing countries. In Mali, Africa, for example, only one in four girls make it to 7th grade. School Girls Unite subsidizes their education, often at a cost as little as $75 per child, and follows the recipients to encourage them to complete their education.


The Time's Up logo
Time's Up

The personal and professional consequences of reporting sexual harassment in the workplace have often made it difficult for women to speak out. Fearing they'll be ostracized, they remain quiet. On top of that, legal action can be costly. Backed by the National Women's Law Center, the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund seeks to provide legal assistance for women looking to battle harassment in court. Just two months into their existence, organizers have fielded 1700 requests from all across the world, including the U.S., Kenya, and Kuwait.


A mother holds her child's hand

Model Christy Turlington Burns founded this activist group that seeks to improve medical care for mothers around the world by training professionals, improving transportation to care facilities, and donating crucial supplies to clinics. The organization has arranged grants that have improved mother mortality rates in Tanzania, Haiti, and India.


A book is open to the definition of equality

Putting an end to unjust and gender-biased laws is the focus of Equality Now, which has helped change over 50 laws and pursued equal rights since its inception in 1992. Thanks to their activism, women in Kuwait have voting rights; in the U.S., the group's protests and engagement also helped pass the first law prohibiting sex tourism.


A woman works in a field

Persistent cultural traditions endorse the practice of female genital cutting (FGC), which involves the removal of external female genitalia. Risky, unnecessary, and invasive, the tradition is being challenged by Orchid Project, which aims to end the practice by circulating educational information in areas like Ethiopia.


A person types on a laptop

Since 1987, this social enterprise has pursued the mission statement of founder Anita Borg by putting women in a position to excel in the technology field. The group provides resources for education in coding and diversity both in the U.S. and abroad. In India, they organize career fairs for women only, offering companies the chance to improve their gender diversity in the workforce.


A woman sits with her child

Offering financial resources to poverty-stricken areas of Guatemala, Friendship Bridge offers opportunities for education and entrepreneurial training that would otherwise be unavailable.  By offering microcredit loans, women collaborate with other members of a "trust" and take part in educational sessions as part of the terms of the loan. By combining capital with resources, Friendship Bridge is able to facilitate better working conditions for the population.


The Pathfinder International logo
Pathfinder International

Pathfinder seeks to eliminate barriers to health or reproductive services in over 19 countries, working to end unsafe abortions and HIV transmission. The group also offers family planning counseling and aims to expand the availability of contraceptives.


Articles of clothing are arranged on a rack

Wearing the appropriate attire for a job interview is crucial for prospective employees. For over 20 years, the caregivers at Dress for Success have been helping women realize their professional goals by providing apparel they might not otherwise be able to afford. The nonprofit accepts clothing donations and then distributes them to countries and areas that may not have wardrobe resources on hand.


A Global Fund for Women infographic
Global Fund for Women

Movements big and small have been influenced by this nonprofit that seeks to finance efforts toward equality. The group has helped over 5000 directives in 175 countries since 1987, including efforts to improve women's working conditions and halt human trafficking.


A woman sits in a field

Helping women thrive in rural India in the focus of this nonprofit, which prioritizes education, health care, and gender equality. Their goals have emphasized self-defense training for women as well as financial management skills. 


The MADRE logo

Following wars or natural disasters, MADRE teams with local community leaders to create solutions. When resources are scarce, the organization brings in the tools necessary for women to help rebuild. In Kenya, that can mean clean water; in Colombia, it could mean art therapy for survivors of war or abuse.   

This Buzzed-About Modular Hive System Lets You Keep Your Bees Indoors

Have you ever considered beekeeping as a hobby? Would you enjoy the ticking time-bomb sensation that comes with keeping hundreds of bees under glass inside your home, as opposed to in the backyard or at some other safe distance from your living room? If you answered yes to both of these questions, the BEEcosystem might be for you.

Described as an observational honeybee hive, these 21-inch by 18-inch hexagonal displays are intended to be wall-mounted and feature a clear glass front that lets users stare into the bee abyss, as Business Insider reports.

When mounted indoors, the units come with a clear transfer tube that runs outdoors via a window sash so bees can forage for pollen. (If the tube gets dislodged, an auto-closing mechanism ensures that bees don’t invade your home.) The company strongly recommends that the units be mounted on wall studs to accommodate the weight of the bees and their honey.

A dog observes a BEEcosystem panel

The BEEcosystem also has a sliding feed panel so that you can nourish your new colony with water and table sugar, as well as a light-filtering cover so the bees aren’t disturbed by artificial light sources in the evening. The units can also be chain-linked to accommodate growing populations

You might be wondering if—angry bees in your kitchen aside—this is actually a good idea. When the BEEcosystem was beginning to get press during its developmental stages in 2015, some beekeepers voiced concerns about whether the consistently warm temperatures of indoor living might influence a bee’s life cycle, or if they might be more prone to disease. Since there's not yet a surplus of people with bee displays mounted on their dining room walls, no one's quite sure yet, but you can see how the system works in the video below.

You can preorder the hives, which are expected to ship later this year, for $599 each.

[h/t Business Insider]


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