We love a Teacher of the Year who takes a strong political stance to support her students
Kelly Holstine is the first openly LGBTQ+ person to be named a national Teacher of the Year. But that’s not the only thing about her that stands out.
Holstine, an English and language arts teacher from the Tokata Learning Center in Shakopee, Minnesota, was attending a ceremony to honor all of the 2019 national “Teachers of the Year” at the NCAA championship football game Monday in New Orleans. It was there that she did something incredibly brave, something that shows why she’s a Teacher of the Year, because she clearly cares deeply for all her students, regardless of their backgrounds.
During the National Anthem, in front of both teams, the entire crowd, and President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania, who were also in attendance, Holstine knelt.
In a tweet about her decision, this Teacher of the Year said she chose to kneel because she had been “given platform to stand up for marginalized and oppressed people.”
“Like many before, I respectfully kneeled during Nat’l Anthem because, ‘No one is free until we are all free,'” she wrote. That was pretty clearly in reference to Colin Kaepernick, who has used that quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. frequently in his ongoing protests against police brutality, which began with him kneeling during the anthem at San Francisco 49ers games in 2016. Kaepernick was fired from his position as quarterback on the team for his protests, and the NFL created new rules that banned other players from kneeling during the anthem.
For Holstine, though, this is just another way to show her advocacy. She’s already been pretty outspoken about standing up for students who come from groups that might be marginalized or oppressed. Late last year, she gave a Ted Talk entitled, “Educators must be more than allies.” The speech was about how teachers have an obligation to step outside of their own comfort zones and “stand up for all of the human beings who are being marginalized or oppressed.”
“Allies are wonderful and we need them, but it is not enough for educators to just be allies,” she said. “We need them to be advocates too.”
In other words, teachers need to take action to stand up for their students, not just say that they support them.
Holstine was also one of two Teacher of the Year honorees who opted to skip the White House ceremony for the award.
“The words and practices and policies of this administration have been filled with a lot of hate toward the LGBTQ community, so I didn’t feel comfortable in that environment,” she said at the time.
Congratulations to Kelly Hostine, who is clearly an extremely deserving Teacher of the Year. Her students are lucky to have her.