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Kettle Run teacher represents Nationals in “All-Star” teacher contest

Monday, Aug. 11 | By Hannah Dellinger
A Kettle Run history and social science teacher earned the distinction of joining 29 other winners in the inaugural year of the nationwide “Target and People’s ‘All-Star Teachers’” national contest.

Chad Wright represented the Washington Nationals baseball team as part of a brand new campaign that celebrates remarkable teachers who have a positive impact on student’s lives and their communities. The contest selects teachers to represent each major league team.

Wright, along with the other 29 winners, won a trip to watch the 2014 Major League Baseball All-Star Game on July 15 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn. The teachers rode in a red-carpet parade with the players and were recognized on the field in a pre-game ceremony. Each teacher received an iPad and a shooting star award from Tiffany's.

For Wright, the honor was a surreal joy. Wright played baseball throughout his four years at Averett University.

“I told my wife on the plane, ‘I feel guilty.’ As teachers, we don’t seek out recognition like that,” said Wright. “When it happens, and the way that Target Major League Baseball People Magazine totally went over the top with it, it was humbling.”

One of Wright's Kettle Run students, Liam Mulder, nominated him for the award.

“He took geopolitics with me twice, just because he wanted to stay relevant with what’s going on in the world,” said Wright. “He also went on a European adventure with us. Last summer we took students to Europe with EF Tours.”

Mulder told Wright that because of the opportunities his class had given him and because of the trip to Europe that Wright made possible, he wanted to do something to honor his teacher.

This is Wright’s fifth year teaching senior capstone classes about United States government and world history as well as coaching Model U.N. at Kettle Run.

“I think the trick to making students interested in history and social studies is just keeping everything relevant,” said Wright. “By keeping things relevant, keeping up with the news, having open discussions and debates, using a lot of critical thinking reading and writing keeps everyone in-tune with what’s happening.”

Wright said that he helps students prepare for the “real world” after high school in his senior capstone class with hands-on learning opportunities.

“We go out and do community service learning, where students have the opportunity to do real-world applications,” he said. “They get to build a resume for those going out to college or into their career fields.”

Wright said that while the experience of going to the All-Star game was rewarding, the real prize was joining a network of the best and brightest teachers in the nation.
“We’ve become this online community keeping a positive conversation about education going,” he said.

Wright said that he has already taken something useful away from the winner that was featured in a People Magazine story as part of the prize, Eric Vander Loop, a teacher at Woodland Elementary in Appleton, Wis.

“He has raised over $100,000 for cancer research in his elementary school based on service,” said Wright.

“What I’d like to do is apply some of his tactics. We’re going to collaborate during the school year to come up with some way to expand the senior capstone experience to involve more charity work, getting involved, and making sure that students are having a positive impact on their community,” he said.

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