2010 National Teacher of the Year
Nation's top teachers honored in White House
What makes an educator Teacher of the Year? According to Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who hosted Teachers of the Year from all 50 states at a recent reception, it's the ability to inspire the joy of learning in your students.
"I think they're able to inspire their students," Dr. Biden said. "I think that's probably why they were chosen to be Teacher of the Year because their students love them so much."
The event was held at the Navel Observatory, where the Vice President and his family live just a few days before President Obama named the national Teacher of the Year on Thursday. The 2010 National Teacher of the Year award, which is the nation's highest teaching honor, was presented to Sarah Brown Wessling of Iowa.
"With Sarah as a teacher, good students have become great students," President Obama said during the announcement in the White House Rose Garden. "Students who had been discouraged and disengaged have discovered a passion for learning. And many of her students have gone on to become teachers themselves, one of the best tributes any teacher could ask for."
Wessling was part of the group honored by Dr. Biden, who has been a teacher herself for the past 29 years. Saying that she has seen first-hand the critical importance of education to the lives of Americans and the success of the nation, Dr. Biden shared her pride and pleasure in making a difference in the lives of her students.
"My goal is to impart a sense of confidence in my students that will give them the strength to move in a positive direction," she said. She praised the teachers for "going above and beyond" for their students, and the nation.
Teachers of the Year from all over the country share Dr. Biden's passion for teaching and inspiring the next generation.
"I think that being involved with my students and trying to find ways to not only entertain them, but have them enjoy the process in learning, [is why I am a Teacher of the Year]", Durell Hamm Jr. of Kentucky told the Scholastic Kids Press Corps.
Respect is one of the most important aspects of education, he continued.
"It helps students to become better citizens if they can respect people," he said. "Respect for one another as well as for all of those people in which they are engaged."
Teachers also had some great advice for students.
"I think the most valuable attribute a student should have to be successful is determination and belief in yourself," said Alabama Teacher of the Year Yung Kincer. "Always have a love of learning, and never let that go!"
A mix and mingle session gave both the Second Lady and the teachers a chance to meet one another. Dr. Biden declared that she felt right at home surrounded by teachers as she still had a large stack of papers to grade.
Vice President Joe Biden made an unexpected appearance at the event. The Vice President spoke about inspiration and hard work, and his jokes resulted in a loud round of laughter in the yellow striped podium room.
Dr. Biden ended the reception with a special message to the teachers there.
"You stand here as the best of the best—each being honored this week for going above and beyond for your students, and our country," she said. "So, on behalf of myself, my husband the Vice President, and President and Mrs. Obama, I want to say thank you."
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