National Teachers Initiative

National Coverage

ABC, World News with Diane Sawyer, September 19, 2011
StoryCorps Celebrates Teachers With Oral History Initiative

StoryCorps’ National Teachers Initiative Press Release

The National Teachers Initiative celebrates the brilliant and courageous work of public school teachers across the country. By recording, sharing, and preserving their stories, we hope to call public attention to the invaluable contributions teachers have made to this nation, celebrate and honor those who have embraced the profession as their calling, encourage teaching as a career choice, and unify the country behind its teachers—helping us all recognize that there is no more important or noble work than that of educating our nation’s children.

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StoryCorps’ National Teachers Initiative Media Advisory

StoryCorps, the national non-profit oral history project, will launch its National Teachers Initiative on September 19, 2011, at the White House in Washington, D.C.

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National Teachers Initiative Stories

Click on the links below to download National Teacher Initiative stories, photos, and intros.

Lee Buono and Al Siedlecki: Dr. Buono is a neurosurgeon who performed an operation that restored a patient’s ability to speak, and right afterwards the patient told him, in tears, to call the person who inspired him to be a brain surgeon. He called his middle school science teacher, Mr. Siedlecki. They tell the story.

  • Al Siedlecki is an 8th grade science teacher Medford Memorial Middle School in Medford, NJ

Ayodeji Ogunniyi: In 2005, Ayodeji’s father—a Nigerian immigrant who worked as a cab driver—was robbed and murdered by teenagers while on the job. At the time, Ayodeji was in medical school, studying to become a doctor. He was also tutoring at an after school program, and here he remembers how he decided to become a teacher instead.

  • Ayodeji is a language arts teacher at Thornwood High School in South Holland, a city just outside of Chicago.

Robin, Warren and Jason Weems: Warren Weems, who is a teacher’s aide in his wife, Robin’s, first-grade classroom, is interviewed by his son Jason.

  • Robin teaches first grade at Leith Walk Elementary School in Baltimore, MD. Warren is a teacher’s aide in her classroom. Jason Weems is a teacher’s aide in a kindergarten class in the same school.

Noe Rueda and Alex Fernandez: 19-year-old Noe Rueda grew up on Chicago’s West Side. He is the oldest of four siblings raised by a single mom. As a boy, Noe watched his family struggle and decided to help. Here, Noe talks to Alex Fernandez, his high school economics teacher, about launching his first business venture—selling discarded cleaning products from a nearby factory.

  • Noe is currently studying marketing at Marian University in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, with help from a scholarship he won through Alex’s class.
  • Alex is an economics teacher at World Language High School in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago.


When you give, you help us record, share and preserve these voices for generations to come.

Each week, the StoryCorps podcast shares these unscripted conversations, revealing the wisdom, courage, and poetry in the words of people you might not notice walking down the street.