In a country blessed with an abundance of extraordinary educators, what does it take to stand out as the Teacher of the Year? According to President Obama, who today honored Rebecca Mieliwocki, a 7th grade English teacher from Burbank, CA , it is passion that makes great teachers go "above and beyond."
When kids finish a year in Rebecca’s class, they’re better readers and writers than when they started. But even more than that, they know how important they are. And they understand how bright their futures can be. And they know that if they work at it, there’s no limit to what they can achieve.
The President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan welcomed Mieliwocki and all the recipients of the nation's highest honor for educators, the 2012 National and State Teachers of the Year, to the White House for a ceremony in the East Room. In his remarks, the President highlighted the crucial work America's teachers do for all of society:
Even in the best of times, teachers are asked to do more with less. And today, with our economy still recovering from the worst recession since the Great Depression, states and communities have to stretch budgets tighter than ever.
So we’ve got a particular responsibility as elected officials in difficult times, instead of bashing teachers to support them. We should be giving states the resources to keep good teachers on the job and reward the best ones. And we should grant our educators the flexibility to teach with creativity and passion in the classroom and not just teaching to the test. And we should allow schools to replace teachers, who, even with the right resources and support, just aren’t helping our kids to learn.
Because we’ve all got something at stake here. Our parents, our grandparents -- they didn't build the world’s most prosperous economy and the strongest middle class in the world out of thin air. It started with a world-class education system. That was the foundation. And in the long run, no issue will have a bigger impact in our success as a country and the success of our citizens.
So every day, when teachers like you put in long hours, or dig into your own pockets to pay for school supplies, or tweak lessons so they’re even better than they were last year, you’re not just serving your schools or your students, you’re also serving your country. And you’re helping to preserve the basic promise of America, that no matter who you are, where you come from, what you look like, what your last name is, you can succeed. You can make it if you try, if you put in the effort..