Elissa Nadworny

A federal report out today reinforces the notion that when it comes to state standards, proficiency is still in the eye of the beholder.

A top-scoring student on Arizona's reading test may fall far below average in states with more rigorous exams, like Massachusetts or Wisconsin.

The nation's high school graduation rate is at an all-time high — 81 percent. It was such big news, President Obama touted it in his State of the Union address.

It's early evening in Friendship Cemetery, the local graveyard in Columbus, Miss. The white tombstones are coated with that yellow glow you only see right before dusk.

Students from the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science are spread out among the gravestones. They're dressed up in costumes: A tall brunette is wearing a dark maroon dress her grandmother made. A young man wears a top hat and leans on a walking cane.

The commencement speech season is underway and recent grads are soaking up the advice and wisdom from speakers across the country.

Last weekend, Michelle Obama spoke at Tuskegee University in Alabama, one of the nation's premier historically black universities. She spoke openly about being black in America.

"There will be times ... when you feel like folks look right past you, or they see just a fraction of who you really are," she told grads.

"The road ahead is not going to be easy," she said. "It never is, especially for folks like you and me."

No matter how high you climb in life, you never forget your favorite teacher.

This week, President Obama awarded Shanna Peeples, a high school English teacher from Amarillo, Texas, the title of the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.

We've been exploring great teaching as well, with our 50 Great Teachers Project. We even shared the stories of our own favorite teachers.

Open up the newspaper or turn on the news these days, and you'll find plenty of talk about race and racism. But it's a different story in many classrooms.

Some teachers don't consider race germane to their math or English syllabus. Others strive for colorblindness in the classroom, wanting to believe we live in a post-racial society. Unfortunately, says H. Richard Milner, we don't.

The NPR Ed Team is all about great teaching — so how could we attend the annual SXSW education conference and not ask folks to tell us about their favorite teachers?

For Whitney Bischoff, high school was tough. On the first day of her freshman year, a childhood friend committed suicide. Things weren't any better at home — her father died when she was 7 and her mom was an alcoholic with an abusive boyfriend.

She had a hard time making friends.

And when all the stress threatened to overwhelm her, she, too, considered suicide.

"I thought family was everything," Bischoff says. "I thought, if I didn't have family support – what am I going to do? Suicide seemed like the only way out."

Last week we told the stories of our favorite teachers. We hoped that would inspire you, and we weren't disappointed.

We've heard from hundreds of people — on social media, in comments on the blog and via email. Here are a few of our favorites:

Lets start with Facebook. Here's Felix Flauta Jr. in a comment on the NPR page:

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