Meet the 2015 National Teacher Hall of Fame Inductees

In February, five outstanding educators – two from New York and one each from Kansas, Virginia and Washington—were selected to be inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame (NTHF). These members of the upcoming class of 2015 were surprised with an assembly at their respective schools held to announce their induction.

The NTHF was founded in 1989 by Emporia State University, the ESU Alumni Association, the City of Emporia, and the Emporia Area Chamber of Commerce.  The organization is dedicated to promoting education and drawing public attention to amazing educators in the U.S. through the induction program, a museum, and resource center.

Located on the Emporia State University campus, the Hall of Fame includes a gallery of honored teachers, a Wall of Fame, teacher contracts, old school desks, antique textbooks and a display of classroom miniatures among other fascinating artifacts.

The first NTHF induction took place in 1992. Since then, 75 educators from 32 states and the District of Columbia have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Induction festivities for the Class of 2015 will be on induction festivities will take place on June 12th in Emporia.

Meet this year’s inductees:

Dr. Patricia Jordan is a retired teacher from Roslyn High School in Roslyn, New York. With 29 years of classroom experience, she teaches 9th-12th grade Mathematics. She has an undergraduate degree in black studies and psychology, master’s degrees in school psychology and special education, and a Ph.D. in psychology from Hofstra University. She has also earned a license to practice clinical psychology, and certification as a K-12 mathematics instructor, school psychologist, and special education teacher.

Richard Ognibene teaches 10th-12th grade Regents Chemistry and Physics at Fairport High School in Fairport, New York. Now in his 28th year of teaching, Ognibene has received the 2002 American Chemical Society Teacher of the Year Award and the 2006 Fairport High School Crystal Apple Award for excellence in teaching. He has also served as an adviser to his district’s Gay Straight Alliance and is an active member of the Fairport Educators Association.

Susan Rippe is a College Biology teacher at Olathe Northwest High School in Olathe, Kansas. With 32 years of teaching experience, Rippe also taught 10th grade students in aerospace and engineering chemistry at Olathe Northwest from 2003-2008. Prior to that, she taught in the Wichita School District. In 2000 she received the Kansas Teacher of the Year award.

Ben Talley teaches science at Van Pelt Elementary School in Bristol, Virginia. With 24 years of teaching experience, Talley is also an author of several books, including “The Game My Father Taught Me,” penned in 2007, which sold nearly 11,000 copies. He also splits his time between teaching GED courses at the Bristol Virginia Jail and teaching elementary pupils. In 2003, Talley won the McGlothlin Award and in 2008, he won the Bristol Mayors’ Award of Distinction.

Brigitte Tennis teaches 7th-10th graders in all subjects at Stella Schola Middle School in Redmond, Washington. With 32 years of teaching experience, Tennis is the founder and head teacher of Stella Schola.  A product of the Lake Washington School District, Tennis attended the University of Washington on an academic scholarship, completing her bachelor’s degrees in Violin Performance and in Education (K – 12).  Her master’s equivalency is in Education. She has been acknowledged as a distinguished educator in Who’s Who For American Teachers in 1998, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2006. In 2006 she accomplished her National Board (NBCT) certification as a nationally recognized professional teacher of excellence in English.

On Wednesday, April 29th, Inductees will fly to Washington, where they will meet with staff at U.S. Department of Education to provide input on how the federal government can be helpful to fellow teachers. NEA will hold a reception in their honor in Washington on the evening of May 1st.

For additional information, contact The National Teachers Hall of Fame at 620-341-5660 or