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No Greater Calling
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Susan Armenta Nick Faber Steven V. Griend Evelyn J. Gunn Donna Hilton Carol Midgett

“No Greater Calling”

  “Every Student’s Right”

  “Becoming the Best”

  “Leading Together”

  Tips for Schools

  Success Stories

  Share Your Story

No Greater Calling
Segment: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Below are links to video segments of this program, accompanied by summaries of those segments. In addition, you can click on the link below to download the Models of Teaching guide for this program. While you do not need the guide to watch the video, having it in front of you as you are watching might help you with the self-tutorial and the workshop sections in the guide. You will need to download the guide in order to complete the self-tutorial and the workshop questions.

Although you do not need the entire Models of Teaching guide for this section, you may wish to read through the other sections at another time. Bookmark this page so you can come back to it later.

Objective of Unit

Participants will recognize the value of good teaching and identify those qualities that all good teachers share.


This program was produced for viewing by a general audience to stimulate and enrich dialogue around the issues of teacher professional development, recruitment, and retention. It was also designed to help the public understand why professional development tied to state and national standards, and the use of best practices, are important for all school teachers. This unit is designed for both self-paced viewing and for facilitators.

Program Description

The host of this program, actor Edward James Olmos, begins by saying that "our future depends on the education of our children and that a good education depends on good teachers. Thatís why there is no greater calling than teaching. But what does it take to be a good teacher? Youíre about to find out." One by one, he introduces segments on six teachers from all over the country.

In order to participate in the self-tutorial and instructions, you will need to download the MOT guide.

Download complete MOT guide (6MG)

Download "No Greater Calling" guide

Download Free Real Video Player

Segment 1: description & Video
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Segment 1The first teacher featured in the piece is Susan Armenta, a teacher at Monarch High School, a two-room school in downtown San Diego, California. The school primarily serves homeless students. Susanís formidable task is to reach and educate children who have lived transient lives, often with little education. She teaches 12-year-olds who canít read, 19-year-olds who take college level courses, and students at many levels in between, so Susan must tailor her instruction for each individual student. Susan demonstrates the beliefs that all students can learn and how teachers must adapt their methods to the individual needs of students.

The student profile is of Jennifer Stoneburner, one of Susan Armentaís students at Monarch High School. There are many reasons why Jennifer should not be successful in school. If she did not have a teacher like Susan Armenta, Jennifer may not have developed the love of learning that she has. And in Jenniferís case, a mentor in the community has gone a long way in ensuring her success.

Segment 2:description & Video
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Segment 2The next teacher story is that of Evelyn Jenkins Gunn, an English teacher at Pelham Memorial High School, in Pelham, New York, an affluent, mostly-white suburb of New York City. Evelyn is an African-American who was born into poverty in Alabama but to a family that stressed a love of learning. Evelyn is an award-winning, National Board-Certified teacher and a Carnegie Scholar. She emphasizes an experiential approach to meeting the NY State Standards for English. Evelyn illustrates how she now inspires her own students to write.

Segment 3:description & Video
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Segment 3The third teacher featured in the program is Steven Vande Griend, a fifth grade teacher at Lynwood Elementary School in Seattle, Washington. This section shows two different lessons he uses to reach his students. The first is an activity in which his students go to a home improvement superstore to work out geometric equations. The second is a social studies activity involving debate. Steven talks about how he realized that when he attempted to have students debate issues relevant to social studies content, they struggled with applying an unfamiliar process to unfamiliar content. As a result, he has his students debate topics like cats vs. dogs to gain greater familiarity with the debate process. Steven discloses how teachers should know the subjects they teach and how to teach those subjects to students

Segment 4:description & Video
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Segment 4Following this section is Donna Hilton, a fifth grade teacher at Arden Road Elementary School in Amarillo, Texas. In addition to emphasizing hands-on learning, this section features Donnaís successful style for classroom management. She is able to create an atmosphere that is respectful of everyone. Students understand that misbehavior is a sign of disrespect to the teacher and to fellow classmates. Donna shows how teachers are responsible for managing and monitoring student learning.

Segment 5:description & Video
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Segment 5Nick Faber, a math and science specialist at Galtier Magnet School in St. Paul, Minnesota, is the subject of the next piece which emphasizes the need to be a reflective teacher. Nick has a 30-minute commute each day that allows him to reflect on the hits and misses of a particular lesson, as well as an opportunity to focus on goals for an upcoming lesson. He also improves his teaching skills by collaborating with others at his school. Through a process called "reflective practice," Nick demonstrates how teachers think systematically about their practice and learn from their experience.

Segment 6:description & Video
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Segment 6The final teacher spotlight shows the positive impact that community involvement can have on education. At Southport Elementary School, just outside of Wilmington, North Carolina, Carol Midgett has enlisted Margaret Connaughton and Jean Fairly ó two of Southportís elderly citizens ó to help teach Carol Midgettís students to read. The video illustrates how Carol, her students and the volunteers all benefit from this added classroom dimension. At the same time, this section highlights Carolís work with the UNC-Wilmingtonís School of Education on Professional Development. Carol models how teachers are members of learning communities through activities that extend beyond classroom teaching.

Self-Tutorial Instructions (time)

Workshop Instructions(time)

To request a VHS copy of No Greater Calling (60 minute program for $25), call UNC-TVís Customer Care at 1-888-292-7070.

All 4 programs in the series are available for $65.