When my friend Pernille Ripp told me that she had been selected as one of 10 finalists in GOOD’s Great American Teach Off, I was surprised neither by the news nor her humility and shock. Pernille is a unique combination of ingenuity, enthusiasm, faith, and sense of purpose that makes her a prime selection as a candidate for a prize in which she would be named our nation’s most innovative elementary school teacher.
Pernille has touched my career in too many ways to count. As I recently told her, hers is always a prominent voice in my reflection and planning. I devote time to considering whether what I do as a teacher is in the model of what Pernille does. She is someone I try to emulate because she values the voices of her children above everything else and truly understands that being a teacher is not about the adult’s ego, but rather the children’s.
Though I’ve never been to her classroom, I have seen videos, photographs, and read about it. I am confident that it is as close to a perfect place for children as I’ve ever known.
Pernille maintains a professional blog that is widely read and distributed, often writing posts that draw comments from some of the most influential and respected members of my personal learning network. Her posts always force me to think. She has a natural and genuine ability to spark thought and debate with her honest insight. She has helped me reexamine my commitment to my profession and the way I conduct business in my classroom. Because of Pernille, I know I am doing better at my job than I ever have.
Who was it that encouraged me to give my kids their first chance to Skype? Pernille. Who was it that encouraged me to try blogging in the classroom? Pernille. Who was it that called me on the carpet for not believing in my kids’ abilities? Pernille.
I once told Pernille how much I wish we could be colleagues. Her reply was simple and true: “We are colleagues.” We have collaborated on learning experiences for our students and professional presentations for our colleagues, given each other support and guidance in diffcult times (both professional and personal), and learned together.
I can think of no better way to sum up my admiration for Pernille as an educator than by sharing a distant daydream I frequently have. I often find myself envisioning myself as a teacher or administrator at a place I like to call “My Dream School”. It’s a place where I get to handpick the most amazing educators I know to come and work together to create the greatest school in the world. It is a utopia that I think about when things seem too difficult or overwhelming.
I can think of no more appropriate first hire for this magical place than Pernille Ripp. She truly understands what it means to be a teacher, what it means to build kids into the young adults they didn’t think they could be, what it means to innovate. She is a tireless professional with wonderful ideas. She is an easy choice for employment at “My Dream School.”
And she is an easy choice for me in The Great American Teach Off.
Voting in the Great American Teach Off begins Monday, October 3 at 1 PM EST. You can vote for Pernille one time every day by clicking here.