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Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Creative Coalition at Sundance Film Festival Honors Teachers

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The Creative Coalition, the foremost nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. During the Sundance Film Festival, it hosted a lunch featuring teachers making a difference which was sponsored by the ING Foundation. In light of the message of the Sundance Audience Award winning documentary Waiting For Superman about the state of education in the United States today, this lunch provided much needed inspiration and hope.

Actor and Co-President of The Creative Coalition, Tim Daly along with actor Wilmer Valderrama, reunited with the teachers who made a difference in their lives. This annual event, held at the Film Festival since 2007, spotlights the “unsung” heroes of education who have made a lasting impact on generations of students and calls attention to the significance and need for outstanding school teachers who can mentor students to achieve their greatest potential.

Tim honored Joyce Devlin, his drama teacher from Putman School in Vermont, who discussed the value of actors working together in generating a collective energy to create value.

Her advice to new teachers in arts education, and to my mind to anyone listening or reading this blog is to be honest, be political, have good ideas of what you want to accomplish and know that you must work through a system. Patience, diplomacy and continuing education are the values teachers must maintain in teaching students to work naturally with their own impulses.

Wilmer Valderrama, who at the age of 14 moved to Woodland Hills California from Venezuela took up acting as a way of teaching himself English by being forced to read, speak out loud and to speak in sentences. That eventually led to a love of acting. Valderrama loves to work with youth, does keynote speaking for kids and tells them that they can get so much more from life and can enjoy life so much more when they are self-made. He advises kids to invest in themselves, that they are not missing anything by staying in school, to take advantage of making mistakes in school now rather than later in life when the mistakes will count so much more. He advises teachers and every one older to tell kids Yes They Can! They do not hear that enough.

The teacher he honored was Mr. Edward Tucker of Taft High School in Woodland Hills California who taught him to always excel. Mr. Tucker, born in Texas, announced that first impressions are a big deal. Seeing him the first time does make a big impression and it did on Valderamma as much as Valderamma made a first impression on Mr. Tucker.

Mr. Tucker’s advise is that teachers (and anyone) should remember that they were students themselves once and it should be shared with the students. Be yourself! If the kids like you, they’ll do your work. You have to almost teach the students when they’re not looking…You can sometimes get their attention to focus for one minute, but it’s difficult.

Mr. Tucker lays out three rules to students in his first class:
1. When I speak, Look At Me.
2. When I write, Write It In Your Notebook.
3. When you take a test, Give Me An A, or don’t take the test.

Valderrama remembers that Mr. Tucker gave a pop quiz, and they were allowed to use their notes. Because he had followed the three rules, his notes, which he had not read but had written carefully, contained every answer to the quiz exactly as it had been written. Success was sweet to this 14 year old immigrant and he never will forget the teacher that gave him the understanding of how to achieve it in the most outstanding of ways.

The Creative Coalition ( is the premiere 501(c)(3) nonprofit, nonpartisan social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. Headquartered in New York City, The Creative Coalition also has offices in Washington, DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco.

About the ING Foundation
The ING Foundation’s mission is to improve the quality of life in communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on programs in the areas of financial literacy, children’s education, diversity, and environmental sustainability.
For more information, visit

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