“We’re educators. We’re born to make a difference.” – Rita F. Pierson
We mourn the passing of educator Rita F. Pierson who died on June 28, 2013, at the age of 61. We were honored to have her contribute to TED Talks Education last May. Her passionate and powerful speech on that program moved viewers around the country and quickly became a fan favorite. We will never forget the difference Pierson made through her tireless work as both an educator of 40 years and a staunch anti-poverty advocate.
Read TED’s moving tribute remembering Rita F. Pierson.
The difference Pierson refers to is not only helping students learn, but being a positive force in their lives. In her TED Talk, she calls on teachers to build relationships with their students, no matter how challenging that may be. Pierson shares examples of gestures large and small to bolster students’ self-esteem, down to how she marked a quiz that a student had failed.
“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.”
“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.’”
Pierson quotes others in her talk as well:
“Stephen Covey had the right idea…’Seek first to understand as opposed to being understood.'”
“James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship.”
“George Washington Carver says all learning is understanding relationships.”
Pierson’s talk has received over 1.3 million views on TED.