Teaching can be challenging on the best of days, and there were new challenges, in the worst of years.
The Cotton Bowl Foundation and College Football Playoff Foundation recognized two North Texas teachers Tuesday for their dedication to education, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It took everything out of me this year. I promise you," said Christiane Crawford-Gil, who teachers sixth-grade math at Uplift Grand Preparatory School in Grand Prairie. "It’s very difficult for teachers."
Teachers and students were in and out of the classroom during the pandemic, at times learning virtually.
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“So many tears, because they don't remember what math looks like or how it’s done, so they are coming in feeling already defeated,” Crawford-Gil said.
But for the two teachers recognized Monday, Crawford-Gil and Dallas ISD media specialist Gracie Pineda, keeping their kids going was second nature.
"It is nice when people who are not in the education industry or business every day, that they recognize how difficult this job is," Pineda said. "But it is also important that we recognize how rewarding this job can really be."
The Cotton Bowl Foundation and College Football Playoff Foundation also donated $50,000 each to the organizations Urban Teachers and Catch Up and Read. Twenty other teachers received gift bags full of swag.
"We try to find places where we can give back and make a difference and you saw what happened today," chairman of the Cotton Bowl Athletic Association Bry Patton said.
Pineda and Crawford-Gil each received tickets to this year's Cotton Bowl Classic and a gift certificate that can be used for school supplies.
"When I look at myself and I hear, 'Oh you are such a great teacher,' I have such a hard time believing that because I think a great teacher never thinks they are a great teacher," Crawford-Gil said. "I think a great teacher always looks at themselves through a lens of how can I get better."
This is part of the College Football Playoff Foundation's Extra Yard for Teachers Week as the organization recognizes teachers around the country.