National Teacher of the Year, State Chiefs Join #GraduateTogether Campaign to Honor America’s High School Seniors

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Washington, D.C. (May 15, 2020) – Rodney Robinson, the 2019 National Teacher of the Year, will participate in the nationally televised Graduate Together: America Honors the High School Class of 2020 event Saturday, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) announced.  

Robinson will appear alongside leaders and entertainers like President Barack Obama, LeBron James, the Jonas Brothers and Malala, as well as students, educators and families as part of the broadcast. Robinson will highlight educators’ commitment to the class of 2020, and all students, through the COVID-19 pandemic. This special event is being presented by XQ Institute, The LeBron James Family Foundation and The Entertainment Industry Foundation.     

In conjunction with the national #GraduateTogether campaign, CCSSO is proud to partner with XQ to feature state school chiefs on the new Rethink Together Forum, where they will offer congratulatory videos for the graduates in their states and territories. State leaders will also share stories highlighting the resiliency, strength and good humor of students, teachers and schools amid the pandemic.  

Parents and others in the town of Buffalo, Wyoming, for instance, each “adopted” a member of the senior class to celebrate his or her achievements, while high school seniors in Elizabeth, Pennsylvania, created a podcast to highlight the members of the class of 2020. These are just a few examples of the many incredible stories that will be showcased on the Rethink Together Forum and in the telecast.   

During the broadcast, viewers will be directed to the Forum, where they will find customized state pages, as well as a virtual high school graduation toolkit. The toolkit offers step-by-step guidance to translate key moments of the traditional high school graduation experience into a virtual environment, so communities can safely honor high school seniors while maintaining a student-centered, community-inspired focus.  

CCSSO manages the National Teacher of the Year program and partnered with XQ to support the representation of all states, territories and jurisdictions in the #GraduateTogether campaign.  

“CCSSO is proud to partner with the XQ Institute on the #GraduateTogether campaign. This event is a bright spot in such a challenging year, bringing together educators, parents, state leaders and other partners in celebrating all students and their accomplishments,” said CCSSO Executive Director Carissa Moffat Miller. “Through this partnership, we are thrilled to make it possible for every graduating senior to hear directly from their state education leaders and the 2019 National Teacher of the Year Rodney Robinson before they take their next steps after high school.”  

“We’ve been so inspired by the resilience of students and tireless efforts of educators during these challenging times,” said Russlynn Ali, co-founder and CEO of XQ Institute, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to rethinking the high school experience so that every student graduates ready to succeed in life. “We are grateful for the opportunity to partner with CCSSO and all these state leaders who share our commitment to recognizing the hard work of students as they celebrate this important rite of passage.” 

This commercial-free special will air on ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC on May 16, at 8 p.m. ET/PT, 7 p.m. CT/MT as well as on more than 30 broadcast, cable and streaming services. For more information, please visit 


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public. 



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