David Rush

George C. Clarke Elementary School, Fort Worth schools

What he teaches: 4th and 5th grade Language Center

How long he’s taught: 14 years, including 12 at George Clarke

Education: Bachelor’s in business administration from Oklahoma Baptist University. Studied Chinese language and culture at Southwest Minorities University in Chengdu, China. Master’s in education administration from Tarleton State University

Why he teaches: Because in FWISD, it’s like being a wildcatter at the beginning of the Texas oil and gas boom golden age. The potential has never been greater for a high ROI on Fort Worth families. Gary and Kelsey Patterson, Travis Avenue Baptist Church, the Chamber of Commerce, the TCU Kappas, and Happy State Bank have helped the principal and teachers at my school increase our students’ rate of college completion by more than 600 percent. We help students open college savings accounts, give college scholarships, provide mentors, take parents and students on college field trips, and place 50 books with a bookshelf in every home by 3rd grade. Four colleges come to George Clarke each year to compete for ‘early commits’ from our childrens’ parents in a College Tank competition. Consequently, we are giving these students over a $1 million of extra earnings over their lifetime and nine years of added life. I teach because teachers including FWISD’s Ms. Vitale invested in me while I had moved to four schools in four years, while I qualified for free lunch, and while my father lost his job for the fourth time. Finding the potential for high ROI is not difficult when you have been an ROI.

How he connects with students: I connect with students by honoring their parents. The parents have sacrificed everything for their children. I give the parents something to brag about as soon as possible. Nothing motivates a child more than overhearing a conversation where their dad is bragging about them to a friend.

Why he’s a Top Teacher: Kelsey Patterson, who, through the Gary Patterson Foundation got involved in George Clarke as many as five years ago, heaps credit on Rush’s leadership for the school’s advances. “He’s just a really great educator,” she says.