Rafe Esquith grew up in Los Angeles and attended the city's public schools. A 1981 graduate of UCLA, Esquith has taught fifth grade at Hobart Boulevard Elementary in LA for over 20 years. His efforts to give disadvantaged kids a better chance at the American dream have earned him the Walt Disney American Teacher Award for National Teacher of the Year, Parents magazine's As You Grow Award, and Oprah Winfrey's Use Your Life Award. Characteristically, he has donated his award money to the nonprofit fund he has established to support the work of the Hobart Shakespeareans.
In2003, he received the National Medal of Arts. He is the author of There Are No Shortcuts: Changing the World One Kid at a Time, and is currently working with the NEA to help put Shakespeare in 10,000 American classrooms.