Media Column

October 31, 1990 2 min read

The Disney Channel is seeking to bolster the image and stature of teachers with an Academy Awards-style salute to classroom educators.

“The Walt Disney Company Presents the American Teacher Awards” will first air Nov. 4 at 7 P.M. Eastern and Pacific time on the pay-cable television channel.

The show will highlight the work of 36 teachers from around the country, three from each of 12 academic disciplines. One “winner” will be named for each category, and the “Outstanding Teacher of the Year” will receive a $25,000 prize, as will that teacher’s school. Since the special was taped in advance, it’s no secret the top award winner is Sylvia Anne Washburn, an elementary-school teacher from Toledo, Ohio.

The teachers were selected by a steering committee made up of educators from national organizations, including the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association.

Michael D. Eisner, chairman of Walt Disney, said that the company hopes the show “can be a media vehicle to romanticize, glorify, and idolize teachers. We’d like to make teachers the envy of the population rather than a group we too often take for granted.”

The program draws on some big-name celebrities as hosts and award presenters, including the actors Carol Burnett, Edward James Olmos, Tom Selleck, and Robin Williams.

The show will get additional airings on Nov. 9, 17, and 21, and Dec. 2.

The awards show grew out of “The Disney Channel Salutes the American Teacher,” a series of profiles of outstanding teachers that has aired on the channel over the past year. The series begins its second season Nov. 6.

The NBC television network is sponsoring its own national teachers’ awards. The network will give $2,000 each to five teachers in grades 7-12 who suggest “the most effective ways of teaching with television.’' Winners will be selected by a panel of educators selected by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.

Applications are available by writing to the foundation at 5 Ivy Lane, Princeton, N.J. 08540.

PBS Video reports widespread interest in cassettes of the Public Broadcasting Service series “The Civil War.”

The 11-hour series drew rave reviews and wide attention when it aired on PBS in September. PBS Video, a marketing arm of the public-television network, reports that it has received more than 19,000 inquiries from educators and librarians about the series. Sales have topped $1 million for the nine-tape video package, which sells for $350.

The package may be ordered by calling PBS Video at (800) 424-7963.--mw

A version of this article appeared in the October 31, 1990 edition of Education Week as Media Column