We believe that teachers are the backbone of education. To elevate their love and labor through the magic of art, the Hero Teacher Project celebrates public school teachers by painting larger-than-life sized portraits of an inspiring teacher from each of the 50 states, plus DC. The paintings not only recognize the contributions of our nation’s leading educators, but also highlight those from historically underrepresented and unsung backgrounds, such as teachers of color and those who pioneer in the arts. Upon completion of this project, we will invite all 51 teachers and members of the public to Washington DC for an unveiling and celebration of their teaching excellence and of public education.
Teachers are amazing people that can be whatever their students, families, and schools need them to be. They can be educators, therapists, counselors, surrogate parents, family therapists, their own tech-support, and their own classroom’s financial sponsors. Teachers are the glue that have been holding the woefully underfunded American school system together, at least for the past 20 years.
My aim with the Hero Teacher Project is to show the country what gems they have in each state. My goal is to tell the teachers’ stories. I want the country to come together around these 51 heroes and demand appropriate support for their unwavering efforts. I will make sure that teachers are celebrated appropriately by their own communities. Thus, ensuring teachers are always valued as a group of dedicated and highly skilled professionals whose only calling is to care for the children and the families of our nation.
Our goal is to begin our journey as soon as our The project is fully funded. We have launched a Hero Teacher Project Patreon page. We will also be accepting donations on this page through Pay Pal. Our goal is to raise $180,000 through both donation and sponsorship.
Soon after our successful fundraising campaign, my family and I will embark on a 10 month RV tour of the United States to meet our Hero Teachers, visit all 51 teachers’ classrooms, and interview them live while I sketch and photograph them in their communities. We intend to complete this journey in the summer of 2023.
I will then continue the Hero Teacher Project in my future studio. During the 2023-2024 School year the remaining portraits will be completed. Of course my Patrons will partake in the creative process all through to completion.
In September of 2024 the culmination of The Hero Teacher Project will occur on the Washington Mall. Each teacher will be transported to attend this EPIC Art event. There will be teacher speeches, students stories, supporting music, and our leaders in support of our country’s educators. This one event will call on all American teachers to come together in solidarity to stand up for each other, our students, and our families.
This will be a moment to say that we cannot have success in schools without our national, state, and district leaders, our families, our students and teachers working together. We need everyone on board to make education in America exactly what it should be, a wonderful place for all to grow, achieve, and discover.
The Gilmores will travel around the United States of America to meet the 51 identified Hero teachers in an RV. We will meet a new teacher every week from August 2022 to June 2023.
Each state will bring a new adventure to my family through national parks, local cuisine, local sites and history. We will visit one community in each state in which the Hero Teacher resides/ works. I will visit the teacher’s school, talk to the teacher’s students and colleagues, and if all goes well, watch the teacher in action.
This is where I will take photos, make sketches, and conduct a live interview with each Teacher. You will get to know these fine educators and their impact on their communities through these live sessions on Patreon. I believe, once you know more about these extraordinary human beings you may very well start to listen to what they have to stay about what THEY think our students need to be successful human beings.
When you support my art work you really are supporting school teachers all over the country and the very concept of public school. While public school does need our citizens’ support it is a complicated issue as to why. However, I will do my best to help you understand the current threats to public education throughout this creative journey.
The Hero Teacher Project is your chance to be part of the experience, the conversation, and solutions to help American Public Education gain unity and strength. Americans seem to be confused about what the purpose of public education is. I am quite sure that our Hero Teachers will surely be able to shed some light on what really goes on in our nations’ classrooms.
After all, when a teacher is identified as a representative of the state education system the entire state must have more than a little trust and thanks towards that teacher. If we cannot listen to state teachers of the year about education, then which person in public education CAN we listen too?
A movement is what is needed to move the needle back to schools serving children not adults. People need to get to know teachers. I want to share this artistic representation of the best of teaching so we will have many leaders bringing our very different communities together.
When we come together to celebrate our Heroes we will come together to listen. These heroes inspire our young people everyday. It’s about time we listened to them about how we could not only inspire children to find their strengths but to actively support our students on their very important journey to adulthood. This is your chance to inspire greatness in every community in America through our teachers.
I will work with the Council of Chief State School Officers, the organization that is responsible for running the National Teacher of the Year program for the United States of America to identify many Hero Teachers.
Criteria for choice of teacher as a Hero Teacher: Someone who has had to overcome incredible odds to become a successful teacher and connect so well with students, staff, and families that they have been elevated to teacher of the year through their unusual practice.
Hero teachers must be currently practicing so I can observe them in action with students in order to get to know them as an educator.
There are currently far more white teachers than teachers of color.
“In 2017–18, about 79 percent of public school teachers were White, 9 percent were Hispanic, 7 percent were Black, 2 percent were Asian, 2 percent were of Two or more races, and 1 percent were American Indian/Alaska Native; additionally, those who were Pacific Islander made up less than 1 percent of public school teachers. The percentage of public school teachers who were White and the percentage who were Black were lower in 2017–18 than in 1999–2000, when 84 percent were White and 8 percent were Black.2 In contrast, the percentage who were Hispanic was higher in 2017–18 than in 1999–2000, when 6 percent were Hispanic.” – National Center for Education Statistics
We need to promote K-12 teaching as a realistic career choice for people of minorities. Young people of color need to see images of people that look like them as high achievers in the field of public education if they are going to consider educator as a possible career choice. Kids also need to see themselves in their teachers in order to know that they too can succeed in this society. I will choose minority educators as Hero teachers whenever possible.
The arts are also under represented in the schools and are also in need of new teachers. We need more art teachers. I believe we are about to turn a corner on the importance of the arts. Thus, the arts will move back into favor with school boards right along side of the core 4 subjects. We will need artists to see themselves as valued members of the education community. I will celebrate the award winning arts teacher as a Hero Teacher whenever possible.
My Wife, Lindsay, daughter Elan (10), Son Arion (7), and daughter Seren (5) will be helping me every step of the way to meet the Hero Teacher Project Mission and Goals. We are so excited to show them this great nation in such a granular and personal way. Fortunately, Lindsay acted as our children’s homeschool teacher during the 2020-2021 school year. She did a wonderful job and didn’t run away screaming anymore than any first year teacher- in a pandemic! She taught Arion how to read!
Lindsay worked HARD to make our home classroom a better place to learn. To do this in a pandemic and continue to run the household as she did is a true accomplishment. Who else is a Hero Teacher here? Anyway, she will continue to be our children’s main teacher while during our one year long field trip. We will visit communities in every state and see how wonderful and loving people are all over this country. They will get to experience the nature of each state especially in the national parks. It’s the experience that I would have loved as a kid. The Hero Teacher Project will truly be a magical time for us.