Darrion Cockrell, a Physical Education teacher at Lindbergh Schools’ Crestwood Elementary, is a true inspiration to students across the nation, especially to African American youth. Above and beyond his role as a Physical Education teacher, he is passionate about providing tools and resources to students across a wide variety of topics, including physical education, nutrition, abstaining from drug use, stress management, and more. He emphasizes the importance of exercise and its impact on productivity, poverty reduction, interpersonal connection and communication skills, and developing a sense of discipline – just to name a few. He believes that all teachers and students should have access to the resources they need for their own achievement and success – a belief and knowledge honed from his own lived experience.
Born and brought up in a community with high levels of drug use and incarceration, he describes how he has lived life on what he calls “both spectrums”. He was born to a mother who struggled with drug addiction and a father who was murdered before he turned 4 years old. Growing up, he thought he was born to simply fail as he didn't have access to basic necessities. He is candid about joining a gang during his youth and how he “started life at the bottom.” Without access to basic necessities, education was not a priority. Several years later, his life took a turn for the better when he was adopted by a football coach – a defining moment which set him on the path to becoming the inspirational educator we are proud to have as the Missouri Teacher of the Year!
To learn more about his inspirational life and approach to education and mentoring youth, please watch his 2021 Missouri Teacher of the Year Recognition Speech
Read more about his work at Lindbergh Schools' Crestwood Elementary in St. Louis here
Watch his feature on Good Morning America