One student-actor's love and appreciation

Share This

As sweet proof of all his educators' dedicated efforts, middle-schooler and "Moonlight" actor Jaden Piner offered gratitude to his teachers on Friday during TEACH.

The student at Norland Middle School in Miami credited educators with bringing kids powerful learning that helps them achieve their potential. "All of my teachers use different strategies to engage us," he said. "It's powerful learning because they are powerful teachers."

Jaden Piner

His history teacher imparts critical-thinking skills to help students look beyond the textbooks.

His science teacher, instead of showing the class mere photos of frogs' internal organs, has students perform dissections. "My frog was female, so I got to see some eggs!" he exclaimed.

Every morning, another teacher leads a chant, starting with "Where my scholars at? Where my leaders?," and ending with, "When they go low, we go high!"

And his musical theater teacher, Tanisha Cidel, made it possible for him to stand in front of 1,400 educators and say, "Hello, I'm Jaden Piner, best known for my role as young Kevin in the movie 'Moonlight.' She says that without discipline, you won't get nowhere. It's my theater teacher who helped change my life."

Later in the session, Cidel noted that Jaden's theater class meets in a science lab because there's not enough money for a theater lab or specialized tools. To compensate, she improvises. She enlists help raising funds so the children can take part in competitions, and above all, she uses the interests and raw talent each child brings to school. Lucky to have a supportive principal, she advises other educators: "Reach out. Go beyond. Do something you've never done before."

Jaden—and the wider world—are clearly beneficiaries of her extended reach. He thanked all teachers on behalf of all students.

"Teachers make us realize we can do anything!" he exclaimed. "President, scientist, actor, anything!"

[Annette Licitra]