Teachers Hall of Fame welcomes two AFT members

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Two AFT members have been chosen for induction into the prestigious National Teachers Hall of Fame, and on May 8, they were feted at a reception in their honor. Scott Charlesworth-Seiler, a fifth-grade teacher at the Fine Arts Interdisciplinary Resource (FAIR) School in Crystal, Minn. (and member of West Metro United Educators) and Glen Lid, a high school chemistry teacher and coach at Proviso East High School in Maywood, Ill. (and a member of the West Suburban Teachers Union) were among just five teachers selected for induction this year.

Inductees to National Teachers Hall of Fame w/Arnie DuncanSecretary of Education Arne Duncan congratulates the newest inductees into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, including AFT members Glen Lid and Scott Charlesworth-Seiler, second and third from left.Photo by Benjamin Myers, courtesy NEA.

Called "the best of the best of the best" by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who attended the event, the newest members of the Hall of Fame are all veteran teachers, required to have been in K-12 classrooms for at least 20 years. Chosen by a national selection committee of teachers and education organizations like the National Education Association, which hosted the May 8 event, the teachers were chosen for professional accomplishments, including advanced degrees, awards, innovation, dedication and involvement in professional development.

"This is a great day and a great week to celebrate teachers," Duncan said, referring to National Teachers Appreciation Week. "But we have to do that 365 days a year. ... We can't overstate the difference you are making."

For Lid, the honor is icing on the cake: His greatest satisfaction is in the daily connections he makes with his students. Known for his creative approach to science (he has dressed up as fictional rapper,"Shorty L" to rap about chemistry, and projected fireballs across the room to demonstrate chemical reactions), Lid is an advocate for his students. He established a scholarship fund for low-income students, using the money he won from the Disney All-American Teacher Award, and has sent students to MIT's summer program for minority students; one is currently attending college there on a Gates Millennium Scholarship.

Lid was a runner-up in 1993 and 2009 for the Presidential Award in Math and Science; a 2007 Illinois Golden Apple Teacher of Distinction; and the 2005 Proviso East High School Male Teacher of the Year. He received the 2007 Illinois Chemical Education Foundation Davidson Award, the 2005 Elmhurst College Alumni Award and the 2004 Disney All-American Teacher Award. In 1990 and 1992 he was runner-up for the Illinois Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association's Assistant Coach of the Year.

"Teachers are like explorers, searching for the treasures in our students," Lid told the assembly. "I believe we are here to waken the human spirit." Showing appreciation for an influential teacher in his own life, Lid attended the event with Joy Joyce, his high school social studies teacher.

Charlesworth-Seiler was similarly grateful for his good fortune in being able to contribute to the lives of his students. "It is my honor to receive this recognition, but it's also an honor for me to go to the classroom," he said. "Very few people have the opportunity to impact lives, to make relationships as part of their work."

Among his many awards, Charlesworth-Seiler counts the 2007 Hopkins Public Schools Education Services Volunteer Award, the 2006 Fox News Top Teacher Award and the 2001 Milken National Educator Award; he was on the 2006 Blue Ribbon Educator Panel and received a Fulbright Scholarship to teach in Japan in 2003. He is also a National Board Certified teacher.

"Mr. C.S.," as he is known at the FAIR School, ignites the imaginations of his students with creative approaches to learning, something that is encouraged at the magnet school where he is a founding faculty member. A visitor to his classroom might see students sitting at their desks on exercise balls, instead of chairs, guessing an adverb their teacher is acting out. Before his work in Minnesota, Charlesworth-Seiler taught in Texas, Germany and China, and he calls his teaching experience, "a great adventure."

"It's allowed me to travel the world, to meet my spouse ... to experience many things, not least of which is not knowing what each day will bring."

Other 2012 inductees to the National Teachers Hall of Fame are David L. Brock, a high school science teacher from Roland Park Country School in Baltimore; James A. Brooks, who teaches 12th -grade English at West Wilkes High School in Millers Creek, N.C.; and Deborah Lynn Tackmann, a health teacher from North High School in Eau Claire, Wis. All the award winners will travel to Emporia, Kan., where the Hall of Fame is located on the campus of Emporia State University, to officially be inducted in June. [Virginia Myers]

May 9, 2012