Former Gang Member, Darrion Cockrell, wins a Missouri’s Teacher of The Year
Darrion Cockrell, a former Crip member, has been named Missouri’s Teacher of the Year — the state’s highest honor for educators. He was chosen by a committee of peers and educational partners from Missouri, becoming the 52nd person to receive the honor, and the first male since 2015 to capture the state’s top award.
Growing up wasn’t easy, he described, “I was born to a drug-addicted mother who had two of her six kids by the age of 16. My father was murdered when I was 4, and I began my journey in and out of the foster care system not long after my 6th birthday.”
He was inspired by the teachers he had in school to motivate and help him through difficult times in his life. He said, “I had a lot of struggles and a lot of hurdles and if not for those educators, I would not be here today.”
He thanked his former mentor Ken who provided him with life advice while he lived in a boys group home. “He taught me it’s OK to be tough, but at the same time, it’s OK to be compassionate,” Cockrell said. “He was like a father figure to me.”
The teacher — affectionately known as “DC” — also expressed his gratitude for the football coach that adopted him when he was in the 7th grade and helped to change his whole perspective on life. “When I changed the way I looked at things, the things around me started to change,” he said. “I had a lot of struggles and a lot of hurdles, and if not for those educators, I would not be here today.”
After his inspiring speech, the school district was so moved by his speech they asked him to be a part of a video to explain more about his life.