Editor's Note: Tommy O'Briant (Brian) Freeman, a 1992 UNCP graduate, added a 2004 DisneyHand Award to the many awards he has already won. He was the 2003 National Education Association's Teacher of the Year. Following are his comments on his Disney experience and a press release about the award. Freeman will speak at UNCP's Convocation on Wednesday, September 1 at 10 am.
The Disney Hand Teacher Awards program was a chance of a lifetime. Disney spared no expense in treating the 39 teacher honorees like royalty.
The ceremony was the Academy Awards of teaching. We walked down the red carpet to the gala. Disney characters, paparazzi and camera crews greeted us. Celebrities from television shows, such as "Judging Amy," "24," "Even Steven" and "CSI," presented awards. North Carolina native Clay Aiken was the guest performer, and we had the opportunity to meet him backstage. We even received our own version of the Oscar called the Mousecar!
The best part was making friends with the other 38 honorees from across the nation. They represent the best in American values of strong morals, hard work ethic and integrity. And they just happen to be the best educators in the nation, too. We have already been in touch with each other by e-mail and telephone. I know I made friendships that will last a lifetime.
So many unique memories … Every night Disney had our bedcovers turned downed for us and presented us with a special Disney gift. They went above and beyond to make the event extra special. I could tell you so much more but I'll save it for now.
-- Brian Freeman
Disney honors the nation's best teachers
BURBANK, Calif. - Brian Freeman, a second grade teacher at Peterson Elementary School in Red Springs, N.C., has been selected from more than 150,000 nominees to be recognized as a 2004 DisneyHand Teacher Awards Honoree. As part of the program. Mr. Freeman will pack his bags for a magical journey as one of 39 teachers selected as an honoree.
Freeman was flown to Southern California on July 22, where he joined other outstanding teachers to participate in an awards gala July 25; attended unique professional development programs that focused on innovative approaches to teaching, learning and leadership; participated in exclusive VIP events/parties; were honored by Mickey Mouse at a ceremony at Disneyland Park; appeared in a parade down Main Street; and received a new glamorous look from "costume designer to the stars," Ret Turner.
"These teachers personify excellence in the classroom, and we are pleased to recognize and reward their creativity, commitment and dedication to their profession, students and communities, and provide them an opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices," said Michael D. Eisner, chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company.
Freeman's creative hands-on approach, combined with his general enthusiasm to teach, earned him a DisneyHand Teacher Award.
The honorees were chosen by a national selection committee composed of distinguished educators. On July 25, the teachers were honored at a gala held at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim where four teachers were selected by their peers as the Elementary School Teacher of the Year, Middle School Teacher of the Year, High School Teacher of the Year and Outstanding Teacher of the Year.
Disney awarded $10,000 to each of the 39 honorees, and their respective schools will receive $5,000. The four Teachers of the Year will be awarded a total of $25,000 each.
The teachers and their principals will also attend a workshop/seminar in October 2004 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where they will share their creative teaching practices, and also develop an action plan focused on improving professional collaboration and teacher learning in their schools during the 2004-2005 school year.
The 2004 honorees were chosen by a selection committee composed of representatives of the following organizations: American Association of School Administrators, American Federation of Teachers, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, The Council for American Private Education, Council of Chief State School Officers, Council for Exceptional Children, Council of Great City Schools, The Galef Institute, Harvard University's Project Zero, National Association of Elementary School Principals, National Association of Secondary School Principals, The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, National Education Association, National Middle School Association, and National PTA. In addition, past DisneyHand Teacher Awards honorees serve on the selection committee.
Nominations for the 2005 DisneyHand Teacher Awards will take place from Aug. 15 - Oct. 3, 2004. Teachers may be nominated by students, former students, students' parents, principals or members of the community by calling 1-877-282-8322, or logging on to www.DisneyHand.com. Nominations will not be accepted before August 15.
Since 1989, Disney has saluted 500 exemplary teachers in Pre-Kindergarten through 12th grade for innovative teaching methods that actively engage students in learning. The focus of the DisneyHand Teacher Awards is to recognize the teaching profession, showcase creativity in the classroom, and honor those who can assist in developing creative teaching strategies in their school districts.
DisneyHand's Teacher Awards is part of the worldwide outreach for The Walt Disney Company, whose mission is dedicated to making the dreams of families and children a reality through public service initiatives, community outreach and volunteerism in areas of learning, compassion, the arts and the environment.
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise which includes Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, The Walt Disney Studios, ABC, Inc., ESPN, Disney Channel, Disney Stores, television and radio stations and Internet Web sites. For more information on Disney's corporate public service efforts, please visit their Web site at www.disneyhand.com.