UPDATED 3:55 PM PT – Sunday, December 13, 2020
A Missouri man who was once a gang member is now the state’s 2021 teacher of the year.
“I’m getting paid to have fun with kids,” Darrion Cockrell said. “This is the best job in the world.”
St. Louis native Cockrell is a P.E. teacher at Crestwood Elementary. After his father was murdered and his mother turned to drugs when he was young, he was raised by his grandmother. Before he was 10-years-old, Cockrell was partaking in gang activity and nearly transferred to a boarding school.
However, his middle school teachers stepped in and showed up to court dates in support of him. They eventually took him in, which led him on a better path.
Cockrell said his story has inspired him to help future generations.
“My message for teachers is understanding the power that we have to make positive or negative impacts on the lives of others,” Cockrell said.
Cockrell is the second teacher to be selected from his school district. He is also the first male to take the award since 2015.