These are the final hours to nominate a favorite in the "Target Presents People All-Star Teachers" campaign, which has been ongoing since Spring Training at AllStarTeachers.com. Major League Baseball, Target and People magazine are presenting the campaign, which celebrates remarkable current and retired teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities.
"My second-grade teacher, Mrs. Espinoza, really had a major impact on my life," Yankees right fielder Carlos Beltran said, recalling an early influence in his native Puerto Rico. "I was a little wild when I was a kid, but she was good and patient, tried to get the most out of me -- and she did. To this day, I remember her like it was yesterday. I feel the same impact she had on me, she had on a lot of kids."
There are a lot of Mrs. Espinozas out there.
Nominees will have the chance to represent their favorite team and be honored during the pregame ceremony before the All-Star Game on July 15 on FOX. MLB previously has honored everyday community and military heroes in this way at the Midsummer Classic.
MLB, Target and People will review nominations and select three teachers per MLB team, with the 90 finalists to be announced on June 5.
Then comes your second homework assignment for a teacher.
From June 5-29, you will be encouraged to return to AllStarTeachers.com and read the nominees' submission stories and vote for your favorite teachers. All 30 winners, one representing each club, will be announced during All-Star Week. The hashtag for this campaign is #MyAllStarTeacher, so be sure to include that when you tweet your nomination.
Winners will be included in All-Star Week activities. In addition to the pregame recognition for all the winning teachers, one winner will be featured in People during All-Star Week. The campaign is just one part of the effort by Target and MLB to celebrate teachers and raise awareness about the importance of education this season.
"For 40 years, People has celebrated amazing educators who are changing the lives of their students and paving the way for a new generation of American leaders," said Jess Cagle, editorial director of People and Entertainment Weekly.
One look at the nominations that have poured in so far, and it is obvious that you will have some great choices during the second phase of this process.
Consider someone like Franz Villate (Rays), a social science teacher in Ruskin, Fla. His nomination says he "is able to relate to students and has fostered a learning environment, gaining a reputation as a teacher whose classroom is one that preaches success is not only possible, but expected." Or someone like Monica Callenbach (Yankees), a kindergarten teacher at Manhattan New School "who is highly trained and hard-work who instills a love of art and culture in her students in addition to basic reading and math."
You'll be seeing the stories of teachers like Isagani Celzo (Dodgers) and Cherese Smith (Rockies), who came from poverty and tirelessly persevered to put themselves into position to help others succeed -- and in the process becoming a success themselves. The former is now an AP calculus teacher at the School of Social Justice in Huntington, Calif., and the latter is an eighth-grade history teacher who became the first in her family to attend college and then came home to the Arkansas Valley to be part of the faculty at Ozark Junior High.
As of a couple weeks ago, a look at the demographics of the nominations to date showed that about three out of every four nominees is female and most were born in the 1980s.
Last Thursday, former Major Leaguer Vinny Castilla shared this message of celebrating teachers during a visit to Barnum Elementary School in Denver, the city where he spent most of his 16-year Major League career. There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the school's redesigned library, and the event was sponsored by Target.
"Whether it was in school or in baseball, one thing I always remembered learning is to never take anything for granted," Castilla said. "Work hard and fight for what you want out of life. Never be satisfied. That stuck with me and is a strong message that I'll always carry with me."
Beltran and Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez are serving as active player spokesmen for this campaign, both giving back after receiving so much from teachers along the way.
Gonzalez married high school sweetheart Betsy, and their foundation is focused on empowering underprivileged youth in areas of athletics, education and health. He also supports education with The Adrian Gonzalez Scholarship program that was founded in San Diego, continued in Boston and goes on in Los Angeles in 2014. The Adrian Gonzalez Scholarship program provides financial assistance to underprivileged students attending four-year colleges and universities. Scholarships are granted to students from low- to middle-income families with strong academic records who are involved in a balance of community, school and work activities with a focus on community service. More than 50 Adrian Gonzalez scholars are in college and the graduation rate is above 90 percent.
"I am really excited about my partnership with Target, which gives me an opportunity to get further involved in the education of our youth," Gonzalez said. "My wife Betsy and I have always had a passion and hunger for the education of young people. In fact, one of the tiers in our foundation is education. We currently have over 50 students on scholarship through our scholarship fund. I am looking forward to doing amazing work along with Target, MLB, and People with this program."