Print this Page

Press Release

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

President Obama Recognizes State and National Teachers of the Year

Contact:Olympia Meolaolympia.meola@ccsso.org202-336-7071

Washington, D.C. (May 3, 2016) -- President Barack Obama today honored 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes and the State Teachers of the Year from across the country in a ceremony at the White House. 

In her remarks, Hayes told students across the country, "I see myself in every one of you and I carry my experiences as a reminder that as a teacher I have to be better. I have to seize every encounter as an opportunity to create a positive memory for a child."

As National Teacher of the Year, she said, "I will make this year about bringing classrooms into communities and communities into classrooms, creating moments, and starting a national conversation about how we can ALL be better for kids. This is not just about students in my classroom or yours. This is about every person who has a vested interest in our children, our future and our world."

The National Teacher of the Year program, run by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) and presented by Voya Financial, Inc., identifies exceptional teachers in the country, recognizes their effective work in the classroom, engages them in a year of professional learning, amplifies their voices, and empowers them to participate in policy discussions at the state and national levels.

Every year, exemplary teachers from each state, the U.S. extra-state territories, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity are selected as State Teachers of the Year. From that group, the National Teacher of the Year is chosen by a panel representing 15 renowned education organizations, which collectively represent more than 7 million educators. 

The following are the full prepared remarks of 2016 National Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes during the White House ceremony today. The remarks are subject to change upon delivery.

 I am honored to be named National Teacher of the Year and to be joined by amazing educators, standing with me today and teaching in classrooms all across this country.

Thank you to my family for joining me here, the CT delegation, the Waterbury Public School district and especially my John F. Kennedy High School family back home. Thank you to President Obama for hosting us this afternoon and, for your unwavering commitment to public education.

Like every teacher, I started as a student and like many students around the country, I know what it feels like to have a dream and to exist in an environment where nothing is expected to thrive. Schools where nothing is said, or done, to nurture or support a dream.  To struggle to find sunlight and constantly be met with concrete barriers.  I see myself in every one of you and I carry my experiences as a reminder that as a teacher I have to be better. I have to seize every encounter as an opportunity to create a positive memory for a child.

I remember vividly the teachers who created those memories for me and encouraged me to challenge myself. I remember vividly the adults in my community that inspired me to give back to others. This is what teaching is all about -- passion, commitment, joy, and stories.

As educators, we have a unique opportunity to share our empowering stories with students and communities to elevate this profession.

We are at a critical juncture. Many states are facing challenges attracting and retaining teachers, especially minority teachers. We must lead and change the dialogue surrounding our profession.

Teaching is about special moments. As amazing as today is, it is just one of many incredible moments I'll share with my students over the years.

Those moments do not occur in isolation. I will make this year about bringing classrooms into communities and communities into classrooms, creating moments, and starting a national conversation about how we can ALL be better for kids.

This is not just about students in my classroom or yours. This is about every person who has a vested interest in our children, our future and our world.

Everyone has something to contribute. But we cannot do it alone. Find your gift, tell your stories, it truly does take a village.

It is now my privilege to introduce someone who understands that, the President of the United States, Barack Obama.

Click here to learn more about Jahana Hayes and the State Teachers of the Year.


 
###


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.