A Dallas ISD teacher has a date with Governor Greg Abbott in two weeks.
Eric Hale, a third grade teacher at David G. Burnet Elementary, is one of a dozen teachers in the state to receive an invitation from Abbott to discuss the most pressing challenges for educators in Texas.
In the letter, Abbott said he wants "honest feedback" to "improve the teaching climate" in the state.
Hale is one of the top performing teachers under the district's Teacher Excellence Initiative, which ties compensation to student achievement and teacher performance and was a finalist for a $25,000 national teaching award earlier this year.
Even with the distinctions, he says he was surprised to receive an invitation.
"One of my good friends here at the school is a math coach and kind of like a mentor to me," Hale said. "I thought she was actually punking me," he said, smiling. "For him to reach out to somebody like me, an African-American male who happens to teach a classroom full of Latin kids – second language learners at that – it’s encouraging."
Hale said he is preparing for the December 13 meeting at the governor's office but already has some topics he's ready to cover with Abbott.
“We’re not retaining the most exceptional teachers, we’ve got to fix that," Hale said.
And he added the state needs to work to make sure new teachers don't get burned out and leave the profession.
“It’s hurting our kids because right now I feel like we’re always in a restart mode,” Hale said.