Standing in the hall of fame

Past Texas High teacher inducted into National Teachers Hall of Fame


Truth Dukes

Monica Washington was surprised with her induction into the National Teacher Hall of Fame. She will join countless other teachers who have received this honor.

Story by Gracie Tucker, Culture Editor

Family, friends, past colleagues and former students filled the foyer at the Sullivan Arts Center March 27, 2023 for the induction of former Texas High School English teacher Monica Washington into the National Teachers Hall of Fame. The event was a shock to Washington as she had no idea what was in store for her career as an educator.

“[I] was asked to come for something totally different than this,” Monica Washington said. “When I started to see all my friends and my friend who came all the way from Montana, I knew something else was going to happen.”

The whole goal of the event was to surprise Washington, and that goal was fulfilled. The whole foyer got quiet as Ralph Draper described the qualities of teachers inducted into the National teacher Hall of Fame; the qualities that fit Washington to a tee.

“This teacher is creative, intelligent and caring above all else,” said Ralph Draper, executive director of the National Teachers Hall of Fame board. “She is the person that students will remember for years to come.”

Students taught by Washington came to celebrate the joyous occasion. Students shared stories about how Washington influenced their lives.

“My junior year I realized I was going to be a teacher, and [when I told Mrs. Washington], she was like you’re going to be one,” former student Molly Crouch said. “She inspires me to bring that kind energy into my classroom everyday like she did and to elevate students that may on some days not feel that motivation.”

[Washington] was always the smallest person in the room, but she always has the biggest heart.

— Julius Anderson

Throughout her years teaching, Washington impacted her colleagues with her personality and love for teaching. Her love for the students helped lead the environment in her classroom.

“[Washington] was always the smallest person in the room, but she always has the biggest heart,” vice principal Julius Anderson said. “[She treated] each kid as her own, and they had the utmost respect for her.”

Washington mentored new English teachers throughout her years as a teacher, and many took the lessons learned from shadowing Washington and implemented them into their own classrooms.

“Mrs.Washington was my mentor my first year at Texas High, and she taught me so much,” English teacher Kara Wicks said. “She taught me to see each kid as an individual and to take the time to build personal connections with students because that’s how you establish a good classroom.”

The emotions flowed through Washington as she was presented with the award as tears fell down her face. The award is an honor not only for herself, but for the district as well. 

“As a teacher, you just do your thing everyday and try to do the best you can for your students, and sometimes that goes unnoticed,” Washington said. “It means a lot that a national organization or state organization says you’re doing a good job to support teachers, and that feels really good.”