National Teacher of the Year visits Dickinson High

    It’s that time of year again when parents start scouring store shelves for last minute notebook purchases and students try to soak up their final moments in the summer sun while comparing class schedules with friends.

    It’s that time of year again when parents start scouring store shelves for last minute notebook purchases and students try to soak up their final moments in the summer sun while comparing class schedules with friends.
    But students and parents aren’t the only ones gearing up for the start of the new school year.

    Nearly 1200 teachers from the Red Clay School District packed into the John Dickinson High School auditorium this morning for the 2009 back-to-school teacher workshop.

    The program kicked off with a powerful speech from an educator who recently earned the Nation’s highest grade.

    Anthony Mullen of Connecticut is the 59th recipient of the National Teacher of the Year award. Mullen is a special education teacher at the ARCH School, an alternative high school in Greenwich Connecticut. For the past six years, he has worked with students in the ninth and twelfth grades suffering from emotional and learning disabilities such as Depression and Bipolar Disorder.

    Since being named National Teacher of the Year, Mullen has met with President Barack Obama and taken on the full-time position as this year’s International spokesperson for education. He is scheduled to make 180 appearances in various cities and states throughout the country by the end of the year and has plans to travel to Japan. “It’s been an amazing journey,” Mullen says.

    Mullen began teaching late in life after serving 21 years as a New York City police officer. In the late ’90s he decided to follow through with his childhood passion of becoming a teacher and enrolled in Mercy College where he earned a Masters Degree in Elementary Education.

    It was a career change that allowed him to see both sides of troubled youth issues. “Police work is very much reactive,” Mullen says, “Now, I’m in a position where I can be more proactive with young people.”

    The honorary teacher spent the day giving a warm welcome to teachers while emphasizing concern of a major trend being seen throughout the Nation. “The real critical issue facing this country is that we have one million students dropping out of our schools every year,” Mullen said.

    In an effort to curb these high numbers, Mullen suggested a few traits that have proven successful in his work as a police officer and teacher. The first characteristic outlined during his speech was passion. “You have to be able to light up a room,” Mullen said, “So that each and every thing you say seems important to the children.”

    The second trait was professionalism and the third was perseverance. “Perseverance means being able to work with any type of child,” Mullen said, “Particularly children who are suffering from emotional or learning disabilities, they need our time, they need our perseverance”

    The presence of these characteristics in the classroom is what Mullen hopes will be the answer to a growing number of high school dropouts in the future.

    Mullen is scheduled to make his next guest appearance this week in Washington D.C.

    Additional information on the National Teacher of the Year Program can be found at http://www.ntoy.org

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