President Joe Biden and first wife Jill Biden held a White House event on Monday to honor the national teachers of the year for 2021 and 2020, as well as state teacher finalists for those years and teachers around the country, who all had to work longer and harder during the pandemic.
After the first lady, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and both national teachers had spoken during the event, the president arrived as a surprise visitor and walked out onto the South Lawn.
Because of their impact over their kids, Biden claims that teachers are the “single most consequential individuals in the world,” aside from one’s parents.
“What you do matters, and it matters in a level I don’t believe you all know,” he told the group of roughly 100 teachers sat on the lawn on white folding chairs.
At the Council of Chief State School Officers 2020 and 2021 State and National Instructors of the Year Ceremony, the teachers were recognized for their outstanding teaching. The ceremonies were originally scheduled for earlier in the year, but were postponed due to the coronavirus epidemic.
The advantage, according to Cardona, is a “two-for-one offer this year.”
Jill Biden, who, in addition to being first lady, teaches English at a local community college, said she was motivated by her grandmother, a teacher who taught in a one-room schoolhouse with three grades of pupils.
She claimed she used to go to school with her grandma, who allowed her ring the brass bell that signaled the start of class.
“I felt if I could accomplish what she did, if I could just set one student on a better path, it would be very amazing,” the first lady, who has been teaching for almost three decades, said.
She acknowledged the difficulties instructors faced after schools were closed to help contain the COVID-19 virus, such as teaching through a computer screen and modifying lesson plans to children who were studying at home.
The first lady remarked, “We’re all here today because someone… educated us, motivated us, and showed us what we might be.”
Juliana Urtubey is the National Teacher of the Year for 2021. She is a special education teacher at Kermit R. Booker, Sr. Innovative Elementary School in Las Vegas. In May 2021, the first lady surprised Urtubey in her classroom on live television.
Tabatha Rosproy is the National Teacher of the Year for 2020. She is a preschool teacher at Winfield Early Learning Center in Winfield, Kansas.
Both teachers received apple-shaped medals from President Biden.