Eric Hale, a third-grade math teacher at David G. Burnet Elementary, almost didn’t go through with the Distinguished Teacher Review process.
Hale was originally excited about the DTR process, as he believed it would reveal his true effectiveness as a teacher. Plus, the opportunity for a DTR teacher to earn a $5,000 salary increase this school year wouldn’t hurt, either.
However, when Hale’s mother suddenly passed away in January, he had doubts about whether he had the motivation to go through with the DTR process. But through the encouragement of his principal, fellow teachers, and feeder pattern Executive Director Tim Hise, Hale completed the DTR process. Then, last week when teachers received their first-ever TEI scorecards, which provide a snapshot of teacher performance during the previous school year and resulting effective levels, Hale learned he was one of 1,172 district teachers to be named a distinguished teacher.
“Being a part of the first recognized distinguished teachers in Dallas ISD is awesome and being recognized at the highest level feels amazing,” he said. “I feel blessed and honored.”
Prior to being a teacher, Hale had a career in health care management. But he said his upbringing as an “angry, hungry and abused” kid inspired him to change his career path because he “felt called to be an advocate for children.”
“I own the fact that I’m a father-figure as a teacher,” Hale said. “I care enough to help, but also enough to discipline. I don’t place limits on what my kids can do.”
Hale’s focus is on educating the “whole child” by addressing their emotional, educational and social needs as a teacher. His aim to inspire his students to “break the chains of poverty” is evident in his constant reminders to “love, nurture and help” those around them when students are at work in his classroom.
With an already defined vision of what success looked like in his teaching career, Hale, named Teacher of the Year at his campus last year, said TEI provided a means to an end by propelling him to be more focused and deliberate in the way he prepared and delivered instruction.
“I studied the TEI rubric and invited as many distinguished educators as I could find to observe me teaching and give me honest feedback based on the TEI rubric so I could refine my skills and be better for my students,” said Hale, whose principal, Sonia Loskot, encouraged him to apply for the Distinguished Teacher Review because she felt he was a fit for the program’s requirements.
Asked what advice he’d offer teachers who are unsure of whether to purse the Distinguished Teacher Review process, Hale offered multiple tips.
“If you love what you do and are successful at it, then you are already ‘distinguished,’“ he said. “Go through the process and get compensated for doing what you are already doing daily in your classroom. Believe in yourself and in your students and you are exemplary.”