BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - It is a profession that doesn't always get the respect it deserves. But one Biloxi teacher has shown that substitute teachers can contribute so much to enrich the lives of young people. On Friday, he was named the National Substitute Teacher of the Year.
"We love Mr. Bean! We love Mr. Bean!" shouted the cheerleaders.
To the students and staff at Biloxi High, Ron Bean is an unsung hero.
"We would like to thank you for your passion to the students. We are so proud of you," said Robyn Tennyson, Kelly Services Branch Manager.
Mr. Bean beat out 20,000 other substitute teachers in 35 states to win the National Substitute Teacher of the Year award. The honor was given by Kelly Educational Staffing.
When asked what he thought about the award, Bean replied, "They got the wrong person. I'm very humbled."
Mr. Bean started his career as a substitute teacher four years ago. He taught at elementary and high schools across Jackson and Harrison Counties. He is now teaching exclusively at Biloxi High School. He is a firm believer in hard work and respect.
"There is a little bit of a negative label with the substitute teacher. My approach is I do not babysit, I teach," said Bean.
Mr. Bean has covered every subject, from Calculus to Culinary Arts, but his specialty is Science, Technology and Engineering. After all, he has quite a bit of experience. He once worked as a manufacturing engineer and operated his own software development company in Wisconsin.
"I love teaching. I'm passionate about teaching, but I'm also passionate about learning," said Bean.
He has another passion, building his students' vocabulary skills. Every day, he puts a new word on the board. The student who pronounces, defines, and uses the word correctly in a sentence wins a crisp dollar bill.
"It's a real dollar bill, never been used yet," he said.
The winning students' names are then entered into a drawing for another dollar bill, this one is specially folded into the shape of a shirt and protected by a frame that was hand-made by Mr. Bean. Plus, every quarter, he gives away a $50 savings bond.
When asked how much of his money he has given to the students so far, Bean replied, "Probably in the last couple of years, maybe $4,000. It's worth it."
So when Mr. Bean won the National Substitute Teacher award, he knew exactly what to do with his $1,000 bonus check.
"Put it right back into the program that makes all the sense in the world to me and that's education," said Bean. "I feel somewhat like Johnny Appleseed. I want to keep planting these incentives, building up vocabulary and helping. The good Lord has given me the opportunity to do that and that's what I want to do."
And he plans to keep inspiring his students, because one word that's not in his vocabulary is "retirement."
Along with winning the $1,000 prize money, Mr. Bean also received a $1,000 check to donate to the school of his choice. He chose to give the money to Biloxi High School.