Actor/rapper Nick Cannon honoured his former school principal at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Friday (16Jan09) - by giving her a prestigious Teacher of The Year prize.
Retired teacher Margaret Verritti was presented with her award at the Creative Coalition Luncheon, and Cannon left his wife Mariah Carey on the ski slopes at Sundance to pay a special tribute to his favourite headmistress.
The actor revealed he was a troubled kid at school and he now appreciates what Mrs. Verritti did for him while he was a student at Avocado Elementary School in Spring Valley, California.
He explains, "I was ADHD (Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder) - the high def version - and I wasn't a very good kid. I spent a lot of time in the principle's office. I got into a lot of trouble.
"I had trouble fitting in because I was one of only five African-Americans at Avocado."
But, Mrs. Verritti took the young Cannon under her charge: "He had a big smile and, although he was rarely out of trouble at school, he was one of my favourites."
Cannon admitted lessons his principal taught him helped him to become a better person and put his energy to good use: "I learned to strike up a conversation to distract people away from trouble. I realised I needed to get out of my own way, so I'd do projects and help other kids."
And he used the presentation to urge other teachers to find ways to inspire troubled kids - and lead them away from mischief.
He added, "I was bored because I wasn't challenged. I needed teachers to intrigue me, engage both sides of my brain to start working really hard. The learning process can be fun.
"I'd encourage teachers, whatever the subject, to simplify things: Tell me and I'll forget, show me and I might remember, but involve me and I'll be a part of it."