EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) -- It was a big day at North High School on Thursday. Longtime health teacher Deb Tackmann was honored at a surprise ceremony in front of the entire school and her family, by being inducted into the National Teachers Hall of Fame.
For more than 30 years Tackmann has dedicated her life to teaching and inspiring young people.
But Thursday was her day as her three grown sons, husband and family, many of them teachers themselves, looked on.
“This has been my home and my safe place because of all the people in this room, so thank you for helping me become the person I am,” Tackmann tells the crowded gymnasium.
Tackmann envelopes her students and well wishers in hug after hug; her oldest son Brian says he's always amazed at how many lives have been touched by his mom, and now he says he can proudly tell the world.
“I can finally update my Facebook and tell people about it. I couldn't tell anyone for so long, now I can finally brag to the entire world what my mom has done and I don’t have to keep it a secret anymore,” Brian tells us.
Her love for her students and her passion for teaching are echoed by her colleagues and students alike.
“It's the knowledge of what she teaches, the wealth of the world that she shares with her students, and students know that she really cares. And that's the bottom line why she's so popular, why she does an excellent job and that's why she's deserving of this award,” fellow North High School teacher ‘Chico’ La Barbera tells us.
“It was great; she was one of the teachers that made you want to go to school every day. Health wasn't my favorite subject out of all the classes but it was definitely a class I liked going to, because she was teaching it,” ninth grader Tyler Bee says.
Overcome by emotion and deeply humbled, Tackmann says what's most important is when she knows she's touched a student's life.
“When a student says you made a difference. You made a difference in my life and I never told you, that's what I’m most proud of,” Tackmann says.
Tackmann is one of five inductees into the National Teacher Hall of Fame this year, and more importantly the first teacher ever inducted from Wisconsin.
In May she will be honored during a reception in Washington D.C. at the headquarters of the National Education Association.
Since the first inaugural induction ceremonies in 1992, 100 educators for 36 states and the District of Columbia have been inducted.