Hale, who was raised on Chicago's South Side and is now teaching there at Avalon Chicago International Charter School, received a Golden Apple Award. He was presented the honor by Northwestern University's Michelle Jenkins.
Ten teachers out of the 600 nominated in the Chicago area received the Golden Apple.
"You can't do this job without wonderful, crazy, kids," Hale said. "I want to thank my parents who have always told me never
Hale's parents were there for the big surprise Monday. "He's driven and takes a special interest in the kids. And he's able to communicate with them," Ralph Hale, father, said.
"I have no delusion that he would not achieve something great in life and he's not done yet," Brenda Young Hale.
Hale is not done at all. There are more lessons to be learned and more students at the Avalon Chicago International Charter School to help put on their paths to success.
"He's a really influential person in my life. He motivates all his students to do well," Karina Worthy, 8th grader, said.
While getting the award was a surprise to Hale, his motivation is not.
"I eat, sleep and breathe teaching. I think when you put as much time and dedication into a craft, I don't think you ever do it for the awards. You do it for your students. You do it for your community," Hale said.
Five Golden Apple winners were named Monday. Five others will be named Tuesday.
All get $3,000 and a six month sabbatical to study at Northwestern University.