Rita F. Pierson spent her entire life in or around the classroom, having followed both her parents and grandparents into a career as an educator.
Rita F. Pierson, a professional educator since 1972, taught elementary school, junior high and special education. She was a counselor, a testing coordinator and an assistant principal. In each of these roles, she brought a special energy to the role -- a desire to get to know her students, show them how much they matter and support them in their growth, even if it was modest.
For the past decade, Pierson conducted professional development workshops and seminars for thousands of educators. Focusing on the students who are too often under-served, she lectured on topics like “Helping Under-Resourced Learners,”“Meeting the Educational Needs of African American Boys" and "Engage and Graduate your Secondary Students: Preventing Dropouts."
Pierson passed away in June 2013.
"Parents make decisions for their children based on what they know, what they feel will make them safe. And it is not our place [as educators] to say what they do is 'wrong.' It's our place to say maybe we can add a set of rules that they don't know about."Rita Pierson
“Every child deserves a champion — an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection, and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be.”
“Teachers become great actors and great actresses. … We come to work when we don't feel like it, and we're listening to policy that doesn't make sense — and we teach anyway.”
“While you won't like [all your students], the key is they can never, ever know it.”
“A colleague said to me one time, ‘They don't pay me to like the kids. They pay me to teach a lesson.’ … I said to her, ‘You know, kids don't learn from people they don't like.’”
“I gave [my students] a saying to say: ‘I am somebody. I was somebody when I came. I'll be a better somebody when I leave. I am powerful, and I am strong. I deserve the education that I get here.’”