First Arizona teacher inducted into National Teacher’s Hall of Fame

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Kareem Neal is the first Arizona teacher to be inducted into the National Teachers’ Hall of Fame. His students say he is compassionate and passionate about learning.

Your thoughts on being honored like this?

Neal: “Teaching is not necessarily the kind of field where you are getting those big types of awards, where all of a sudden you are on TV shows and things like that! So, 2019 I won Arizona State Teacher of the Year, and it was pretty big as well. I just feel like, I wish other teachers had the opportunity to experience a lot of what I am experiencing. Being the first Arizona Teacher Hall of Fame member, I am hopeful that I can also help some other folks.”

What got you started in teaching?

Neal: “The Special Olympics! I was a student at Seton Hall at the time, Seton Hall University in New Jersey, I grew up in New Jersey. A Special Olympics event came, and I was the person who worked at the rec center, so I would put up matts and things like that for events. Someone said, ‘Hey, do you mind coming and talking to the students?’ Because I am really tall! And they were kind of enthralled by how tall I am; I am 6′ 7. So I went over, and the athletes were so authentic. And when you are a junior in college, we are all very similar, we all talk the same, we dress the same, we listen to the same music. They were just completely their own selves, not worried about how they appeared to the outside world. I just thought that was super refreshing, and I dove right in. So I was like, ‘I got to go to grad school,’ because I was a chemical engineering major.”

Kareem Neal, Special Education Teacher

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