Dallas ISD teacher Eric Hale, who lives in the Kessler area, is the 2021 Texas Teacher of the Year.

Hale, who works at David G. Burnet Elementary in Northwest Dallas, is the first Black man to receive the honor. Now he is among the finalists for National Teacher of the Year, chosen in the spring.

Hale says that he believes teaching is a platform “given to me by God.”

“I want to send a message out to children that are living in trauma and poverty, that if you work hard, that you can accomplish any goal,” he says in an acceptance speech (watch it below).

Hale became a teacher about 10 years ago and has taught elementary school since then. He says that an administrator told him during his first year of teaching that this wasn’t the career for him. Now “perseverance” is a keyword to his approach.

Hale worked all spring and summer, bringing programming to his students to make sure that learning continued for all of them, preventing “summer slide.”

Watch him talking to a parent picking up flashcards curbside: “He needs to know all of his second grade words before school starts,” Hale says in the video. “We’re not getting behind. We’re only going for greatness.”

The Summer of Serve, operation can’t Stop Won’t stop.

Posted by Eric June Hale on Friday, October 2, 2020

Hale also appeared on the Today show Monday.

Here he is openly weeping, thanking God, his wife and his grandmother.

“Every child is from the same tribe that I came from,” he says. “The tribe of ‘if.’ ‘If’ you weren’t being abused. ‘If’ you had more money. ‘If’ you had more resources you might be able to be something. Keep trying. Not grit. Perseverance.”