For Immediate Release:
May 10, 2023
Sara Groves 202-483-7382
San Fernando, Calif. – Just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week (May 8–12), TeachKind—PETA’s humane education division—has named San Fernando Senior High School educator John Grilli a 2023 Teacher of the Year Runner-Up for finding innovative ways to bring animal rights lessons into his senior economics and political science classroom.
Grilli became interested in animal rights when he was in high school, and now he includes it in lessons and discourse with his students. As a cultural historian, he teaches about how humans have exploited other animals for power and profit throughout history, pointing to current examples such as the coconut industry’s use of forced monkey labor. Thanks to his encouragement, his students have been inspired to clean up their local beaches, care for homeless animals at their local animal shelter, and even take on causes of their own. After learning about the many ways rats are exploited, a group of his students petitioned—on their own—another teacher at their school to give her rats in her classroom a cozy, permanent place to live at her own home.
“John Grilli inspires his students to demonstrate kindness to animals whenever possible, from volunteering in their community to speaking up for animals in their own school,” says PETA Senior Director of Youth Programs Marta Holmberg. “TeachKind is thrilled to recognize this outstanding teacher for proving that compassion belongs in every classroom.”
In celebration, Grilli will receive a framed certificate and a gift basket from TeachKind.
TeachKind—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to abuse in any way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. The group offers free resources, presentations, lessons, and more to help teachers add compassion to their curricula. For more information, please visit TeachKind.org or follow the group on Facebook, or Instagram.