Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Classic: Teacher Logs 26 Years, Award

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

A Classic: Teacher Logs 26 Years, Award

Article excerpt

Who says there's no job stability these days?

James E. Kerr not only has taught history, geography and current events at Triad High School for the last 26 years, but he has done it all that time in the same classroom.

And he has no intention of doing anything else in the foreseeable future.

It's not that he hasn't had other offers. Kerr holds a master's degree in educational administration from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a doctoral degree in history from St. Louis University.

His teaching abilities caught the attention of the national Milken Family Foundation, which recently gave him $25,000 as one of 150 teachers throughout the United States to get one of the foundation's National Educator Awards this year.

Kerr, 48, said in an interview last week at Triad near Troy that he would bank the money for his own children's education.

"This was my first job out of college, and I don't want to change jobs," Kerr said. "What I really enjoy the most is walking in the door and mixing it up with 30 kids - or a total of 150 kids - each day."

That's an average of 30 students an hour and five hours of teaching classes in Room 9 every school day each year. The only thing that has changed about the routine over the years is the room number. It used to be Room 7 before building additions to the school.

Of course, there have been many changes inside the room. Kerr now uses a computer and a reconditioned fax machine and copier. The fax/copier was a gift from some former students.

He's proud that almost 80 percent of his former students went on to college. He's kept in touch with many of them, and some are now the parents of his current students.

From the first day of each class, Kerr tries to get his students interested in geography and history by questioning and challenging them. If a student is a slow learner, he attempts to learn why and to find other ways of reaching that student.

Most important, Kerr said, is that he tries never to dictate to or belittle any student. …

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