Darrion Cockrell, a 34-year-old teacher in Crestwood, Mo., recently won the state’s Teacher of the Year award. Mr. DC, as he is known to his students, has traveled a long road in his life, going from gang member at a young age to Teacher of the Year. Cockrell’s early life was filled with tragedy. His father, a drug dealer, was murdered and his mother battled drug addiction. Cockrell moved between his grandmother’s home and foster care. Teachers stepped in at several key points and helped him change the trajectory of this life. Mr. DC is a physical education (PE) teacher and has extended PE to the whole community by running programs that offer after-school workouts to teachers and students’ families and weekly basketball games for dads. Dr. Charity Schuler, principal of Crestwood Elementary school where Cockrell teaches, said she believes Cockrell’s firsthand experience of knowing the impact teachers can have on students is one reason he’s so talented at his job.

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