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Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

All week I have been thinking about the teachers. I remember Claire Pelton, the English teacher who first told me I was a writer, and it has been a part of my identity ever since. 


It is hard to single out just one teacher, as I am so fortunate to have had so many teachers who saw me and believed in me, and the same has been true for my children. Today, my daughter Bella Villarreal reminded me about how she called upon Dayton King, math teacher at CAST Tech, hours before the AP statistics exam, and even though she was not taking his class, he sat with her and crammed for 2 hours to help her prepare. My son had the incredible good fortune to take classes with Zack Wilson for three years in a row, starting in the 7th grade. Something beautiful that he did was he polled the students to see what they had enjoyed most about the previous year. When they told him they loved the Speak Up Speak Out civics fair, he designed his 8th grade class around that experience, even though he privately confessed to me that he did not enjoy it.

Teaching was my first job out of college and remains both the hardest and most joyful job I have ever held. Some days I wake up dreaming that I want to go back. And I also recognize the incredible demands we put upon teachers – how little they sometimes can control their time, and I desperately want us to value teachers in a way that recognizes their special contribution to our society. If you have a teacher in your life like my Claire Pelton (who is no longer alive), please consider sending him/her a note before the end of this school year saying how your life has been made better. We also need to collectively advocate for more pay and greater respect, but this love is the fuel that keeps teachers going, even when the days are long.


Jeanne Russell

Executive Director

CAST Schools

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The Centers for Applied Science and Technology (CAST) Network is a tax-exempt organization as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Service code. CAST Schools are partnership schools with a focus on STEM careers, project based learning and work-based learning. Key partners include public school districts, higher education institutions, and local employers from target industries.