OBERLIN, Ohio — History teacher Kurt Russell grew up in Oberlin, Ohio and graduated from the Oberlin City Schools.
He has spent his entire career teaching in his hometown. Beloved in his northern Ohio community, Russell was recently honored as the 2022 Ohio Teacher of the Year.
Never one to shy away from a challenge, Russell plans to turn this recognition into an opportunity to advocate for making sure all students see themselves reflected not only in their classrooms, but in the curriculum as well.
“I walk into this classroom every day, and I know that even though we cover some uncomfortable topics, he always asks the hard questions and makes it a very safe environment to make sure we’re all comfortable,” said Ryley Steggall who is a senior at Oberlin High School.
Russell also teaches courses on African American history about the culture, the heritage and traditions in America and across the world. He also teaches a course called race, gender and oppression that discusses topics of oppressed communities.
“Every student in Ohio can relate to these topics, so when look at race relations in America, all of us are affected by that. Whether that’s positively negatively, we are affected. I feel it is so important for students to feel comfortable, to talk about race. And for students to feel as though they have a say so in regard to changing the trajectory of this country,” says Russell.
Russell recently found out he is now one of four finalists for the 2022 National Teacher of the Year. That honor will be handed out by President Biden later this spring.