Teacher of the Year: Congrats and Good Speech

A very good event in the White House Rose Garden yesterday, a nicely informal ceremony honoring the State and National Teachers of the Year. The national honoree was Michael Geisen, a forester turned middle school science teacher from Prineville, Oregon. President Bush highlighted both the approach and personality that make Geisen a great teacher:

Great teachers like Mike are optimists who believe in setting high standards. He believes that every child can learn if given a chance. And so when he became head of the science department, he created assessments for the students, and he put a system in place to measure results. That’s what confident, optimistic people do — say, I’m not afraid to measure, and if you believe every child can learn, then you want to assess to make sure they are.

And what a fine set of remarks Geisen gave. Obviously, he spends a lot of time keeping people’s attention with his words — seventh graders! — but he spoke naturally, sincerely and with good humor.

We need to realize that we, as the United States in the 21st century, have this unique opportunity, a tremendous opportunity to fulfill an emerging niche in the world economy if — if we educate our children to do more than just do math, reading and writing.

Students need to know that we value more than just being right all the time. We need to really honor their creativity, we need to honor their desire to learn useful skills that are going to be relevant in a 21st century world. These are skills such as innovation and creativity; people skills, like compassion and collaboration; and the ability not just to know the details but to really see how it fits into the big picture.

This is our real challenge, is to educate the entire child — not just the left side of their brain, but the entire child.

A very nice job, there with his wife and children and fellow teachers. And the President obviously liked the guy.

Photos from the event are available here.

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