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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
April 30, 2003

Mrs. Bush's Introduction of President Bush at National Teacher of the Year Award
The East Garden

Thank you for your warm welcome. As a former teacher, I am especially pleased to recognize and celebrate the extraordinary work of America's great teachers. I know how rewarding and challenging teaching can be - and what a remarkable difference a teacher can make in a child's life.

You may have read one of my favorite depictions of teaching: "If a doctor, lawyer, or dentist had 40 people in his office at one time, all of whom had different needs, and some of whom didn't want to be there and were causing trouble, and the doctor, lawyer, or dentist, without assistance, had to treat them all with professional excellence for nine months, then he might have some conception of the classroom teacher's job."

Laura Bush introduces the President George W. Bush during a ceremony honoring National Teacher of the Year Betsy Rogers, left, as Secretary of Education Rod Paige looks on at the White House April 30, 2003.  White House photo by Susan Sterner I wish everyone in America could spend time in the classrooms of the teachers we honor today. Every teacher here and the four finalists for the National Teacher of the Year - Betsy Rogers, Lorraine Johnson, Melissa Bartlett, and Jennifer Montgomery - teach us the meaning of professional excellence - and what it means to be a teacher.

Teaching is the absolute profession, the one that makes all others possible. Teachers help students develop the skills they need for a lifetime of learning and a lifetime of possibility. Think about this awesome privilege for just a moment. There are few professions where you can see the impact of your work so vividly. There aren't many jobs where hero and best friend are part of the job description. And there are few careers that have such a lasting effect on an entire generation and an entire nation. Teachers fill children's lives with hope, learning and love - not just on school days, but every day of their life.

And although we celebrate this award once a year, America is rewarded every day through the talents and accomplishments of our teachers. Thank you all for your commitment to children. Your energy and enthusiasm for teaching is reflected in your students' enthusiasm for learning.

Teaching is the greatest public service and we owe every teacher our admiration, appreciation and respect.

I am happy to say that the President loves teachers so much that he married one. And I'm not going to say that he was the teacher's pet, but my husband still hears from his 2nd and 3rd grade teachers - and he still listens to teachers today. Ladies and Gentlemen, my husband, President George W. Bush.


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