When we, your curators, were growing up, most of our heroes were cowboys, and you could tell the good guys from the bad guys (yes, they were manly male) by the color hats (the good guys wore white hats!). In another TED Talk, General Collin Powell addressed this topic (you might want to listen to it and compare his message with that of Rita.

For children growing up today, who are the heroes? Can children distinguish between the hero and the villain? It the past, the “good guys” won; what do children experience today? Is the “bad guy” becoming more and more appealing?

Why you should listen:

For the past decade, Pierson conducted professional development workshops and seminars for thousands of educators. Focusing on the students who are too often under-served, she lectured on topics like “Helping Under-Resourced Learners,”“Meeting the Educational Needs of African American Boys” and “Engage and Graduate your Secondary Students: Preventing Dropouts.”

Who is she:

Rita F. Pierson, a professional educator since 1972, taught elementary school, junior high and special education. She was a counselor, a testing coordinator and an assistant principal. In each of these roles, she brought a special energy to the role — a desire to get to know her students, show them how much they matter and support them in their growth, even if it was modest. She died in June 2013.


  1. According to Rita, the reasons that children do not learn have been well researched and documented; what are the reasons? What has been done to try to alleviate the problem? What have been the results?
  1. Rita offered a quote, “ James Comer says that no significant learning can occur without a significant relationship”. Do some research on this topic; create a survey and administer it to a number of people. Focus on whether they can identify special relationships that shaped their learning. Also, ask about relationships that had a negative impact on learning – what happened? What went wrong?
  1. If a teacher were to ask you, “How do I raise the self-esteem of a child and his academic achievement at the same time?” how would you respond?
  1. In what way can we help children to find their Champion?

Every kid needs a champion with Rita F. Pierson


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