A four-hour drive from Fulton, Missouri, the National Teachers Hall of Fame might be a place to visit before summer’s end. Aspiring teachers, including bachelors in education students at William Woods University, can encounter interesting school artifacts, teacher resources and stories about some of the nation’s top educators.
Known as Teacher Town USA, Emporia, Kansas has been home to the National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF) since 1989. A recent NPR article shares the history of how this place came to be and where it stands today.
The initiative started as a joint effort between the local school board, chamber of commerce and Emporia State University. Recognizing the need to honor the nation’s top teachers, a program was created to select five of the nation’s most outstanding PreK-12 teachers each year to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. Today, there are 130 inductees from all over the U.S.
If you are wondering what it takes to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, anyone can nominate a teacher and self-nominations are also welcome. However, to be nominated teachers must have a minimum of 20 years of full-time PreK-12 teaching experience, a valid teaching certificate or license and a bachelor’s degree.
Following the submission of the nomination packet, the nominees are evaluated through a multistep process that narrows down the submissions to 20-25 semi-finalists. Then, the semi-finalists must submit a three-minute video to the National Selection Committee which includes representatives from educational organizations, corporate sponsors and former inductees. The Committee then selects ten finalists from which the final five inductees are chosen.
In addition to learning more about the inductees, the Hall of Fame visitors can find items and artifacts that showcase early days of education from classroom furniture to antique textbooks and old school records such as teacher contracts, class attendance documents and more. The Hall of Fame also includes a small museum that features a one-room school set in the mid-1800s.
Seeing how the education system has evolved and continues to change is an important part of becoming a teacher. At William Woods, students take EDU 250 – Foundations of Education to learn about the development of educational institutions, ideas and social forces that have influenced them as well as current issues affecting educators.