☷Remarks by First Lady Jill Biden at the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year Event
White House ( By Press Release office)
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East RoomTHE FIRST LADY: Thank you . Thank you very much . Thank you . Thank you , Secretary Cardona . And welcome to the White House . ( Applause . ) As I was reading through your stories , I was so impressed by the innovation and creativity that all of you bring to your classrooms every day . Kurt Russell , our National Teacher of the Year , helps students find a sense of self worth by dressing for success . Autumn Rivera , from Colorado — ( applause ) — helped her students join a campaign to save a local lake . Jerad Koepp — where are you — ( applause ) — has helped his Native American students explore their Tribal culture and history . And the stories go on and on . But I also know that what makes your work special isn’t just the projects or presentations . It’s not the curriculum or the classroom tactics . It’s that smile that you — that tells students that they don’t have to be afraid to say and answer out loud . It’s the calm in your voice that can still the — you know , the wild horses running through their hearts . It’s the way that you know that sometimes “I’m fine” means everything is wrong . It’s how they know that you’re telling the truth when you say , “It’s okay . We’re going to figure this out together . ”What makes your work so special is you: the love and the joy that you bring to it , the empathy and the understanding , the sheer power of your presence . You do this work because it’s a part of who you are , because you have a calling . And you’re not alone . Somewhere listening is a college student who grew up teaching her younger brothers and sisters and knows that she has a gift . A young man who took an education class and something just clicked for the first time . There’s an artist who wants to spread the joy of creating something out of nothing . They have a calling , too , to show students an entirely new world in science or history or art , to guide them through uncharted paths to change someone’s life forever — in big , red - letter moments and small acts of kindness . To them , I want to say: Listen to that call . Join us . Yes , you — you can change the world one student at a time . And we need you . We need more teachers . ( Applause . ) I can’t promise that it will be an easy job . Right ( Laughter . ) But I can promise that it will fill your life with meaning and purpose and joy . My own grandmother was a teacher in a small town in New Jersey . And she loved her work , and her students loved her in return . And just like you might see in the movies , she used to call her students to class with a big brass bell . And when she died , she didn’t leave behind a giant estate , but what I inherited from her — and what I still have to this day — is that bell . And I sometimes think about the way her legacy resonated into the world like waves of sound , changing those who heard its ring . I think of every student she taught and every child who she inspired , and I wonder , like , what amazing things they grew up to do . Perhaps they are public servants working to make our communities a little stronger , a little fairer . Perhaps they’re doctors saving lives or architects building our cities or scientists working to solve global challenges . And , of course , there’s at least one teacher . Today , all of you ring your own bell , pulling each person you teach into a harmony that never ends . Right now , someone out there is a better thinker because of you . Someone is standing a little taller because you helped her find the confidence that she needed . Someone is working a little harder because you pushed him to try . Someone is a little kinder because you showed her what that meant . And someone is braver because you helped him find his courage . Never stop ringing that bell . Never forget that , student by student , the lives — ( laughs ) — now I’m getting emotional — ( laughter ) — the lives you change go on to change the world . Thank you . Thank you . Thank you . ( Applause . ) And now I’m proud to introduce someone who has answered their call with passion , persistence , and pride: the 2022 National Teacher of the Year , Kurt Russell . 4:28 P . M . EDT
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