Isagani Celzo from fulfilled his dream of becoming a teacher despite extreme poverty, working as janitor while earning an academic scholarship and graduating magna cum laude with a degree in mathematics at age 20. He is a founding member of the School of Social Justice in Huntington Park, Calif., with sky-high state assessment scores for his students and a positive impact on closing the achievement gap in his community.
There are 87 others like them, and all are hoping for your support. Voting is underway through June 29 at AllStarTeachers.com to decide from among three finalists for each Major League Baseball club in the "Target Presents People All-Star Teachers" campaign, which will result in 30 teachers -- one per club -- participating in All-Star Week festivities next month at Target Field in Minnesota.
MLB, Target and People announced the 90 finalists on Thursday, celebrating remarkable current and retired teachers who make an impact on the lives of their students and communities. All 30 winners will be announced prior to All-Star Week and will be recognized during the pregame ceremony of the 2014 MLB All-Star Game on FOX.
"It's very important," said Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, who has served as player spokesman for the campaign along with Yankees outfielder Carlos Beltran. "We all have that favorite teacher we remember, who really helped us in an important way. Teachers are a big instrument in our education and our growing up and just becoming a better person overall, so it's always great to be able to recognize them and let them know they are appreciated and always thought of."
The campaign began with the nomination process early this season, and MLB, Target and People selected the three finalists out of those nominations. You can see their stories and photo at AllStarTeachers.com, and the hashtag to tweet with your vote is #MyAllStarTeacher.
This is just one part of Target, MLB and People's effort to celebrate teachers and raise awareness about the importance of education this season. MLB legends have attended Target-hosted School Library Makeover events in MLB communities throughout the first half of the season. The list includes Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Vinny Castilla, Ron Cey, Cliff Floyd, Luis Gonzalez, Tim Laudner, Gary Matthews, Tony Oliva, Harold Reynolds and Michael Young. Visit ABullsEyeView.com/Baseball for regular updates and behind-the-scenes access.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. Read and join other baseball fans on his MLB.com community blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.