The White House, President George W. Bush Click to print this document

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
September 8, 2005

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at a Back to School Event
Lovejoy Elementary School
Des Moines, Iowa

photos  Photos

10:42 A.M. CDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you very much. Thank you all. Thank you for the warm welcome. Thanks so much. I'm so excited to be here at Lovejoy today, and I'm really happy to be traveling with our Secretary of Education, Margaret Spellings. Margaret is also a mother. She has a daughter who went off to college for the first time this fall, and another daughter who's in the 8th grade at a public school near D.C. So back to school time is always busy for her.

Laura Bush is joined by U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, right, as she reads a book to first graders at Lovejoy Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, September 8, 2005.  White House photo by Krisanne Johnson I want to thank your principal. Thank you very much, Mrs. Floden, for all of your help, and for letting us visit your good school and for your very good work over the years.

I also want to acknowledge your Governor. You might know that Governor Tom Vilsack is here. Governor, I hope you'll stand so everybody can see you, and thank you so much for joining us today. (Applause.)

Also, Mayor Frank Cownie, Mayor of Des Moines, is here. Thank you, Mayor. Thank you for joining us today. (Applause.)

You know, as a school teacher myself for many years, the start of school is one of my favorite times of year. Principals are excited to welcome children back to school, teachers can't wait to meet their new students, students are eager to start their new lessons, to see all their friends that they missed over the summer, and to open up all those fresh notebooks.

I know that enthusiasm lasts for at least a few weeks at the very first of school, and so I'm so excited to be with you here today in your first couple weeks of school.

As you start school today, or this last couple of weeks, and as other children around the country are going to school, all of us are thinking about the children in Louisiana and Mississippi and Alabama who aren't in their regular schools today because their schools have been hurt some way in the hurricane. A lot of these students are in new schools. Schools and children have welcomed them to a temporary school for them to go to for a while until they move back to their hometowns.

And this afternoon, I'll be visiting a school in Mississippi that's welcoming students from the Gulf Coast. Schools across our country, but particularly in the Southern states, are welcoming students from all the Gulf Coast area, including here in Des Moines. There are some boys and girls in the Des Moines schools, a few boys and girls here who did live on the Gulf Coast and whose families have come up here. So I know the students of Des Moines are welcoming them with open arms and doing everything they can to help them.

I also want to thank each one of you for what you've done to raise money for those children and to give me the supplies to take to the school in Mississippi this afternoon. I'll give those supplies to those children, and at the same time give them your very best wishes and your love and tell them that the boys and girls at Lovejoy have sent them these special presents.

Laura Bush observes a fifth grade math class at Lovejoy Elementary School in Des Moines, Iowa, Thursday, September 8, 2005.  White House photo by Krisanne Johnson There is a way to help all of these schools that are incorporating new students in their schools. The Department of Education has a special website, , and on that you can find a link called "Hurricane help for schools." On this web page, school districts can ask for the supplies that they need for their extra students that they've got because of Hurricane Katrina, and then organizations or schools or corporations can look at this website, they can see what schools need, and they can try to match those needs.

For instance, the Des Moines Independent Community School District posted a note on the website saying that they can provide hundreds of English textbooks. So now a school district in one of the affected states can look at that posting, and if that's what they need, then they'll contact the Des Moines public schools.

So thank you all. I want to thank the people of Des Moines School District for posting that and trying to help in whatever way they can.

As students start the school year, students and teachers resolve that this year they're going to work as hard as they can to achieve the highest standards. This is the fourth year of the No Child Left Behind law. Everyone involved in education -- from classroom aides to the Secretary of Education -- has the same goal, and that is to make sure every child receives the very best education. And that means every child in every neighborhood across our country. We want every child from every background to be well prepared for lifelong success.

And the hard work of teachers and students is producing results. As Secretary Spellings said, standardized test scores have been going up -- including here at Lovejoy Elementary. And what's really encouraging is that the achievement gap -- the difference in scores between white students and minority students -- is closing.

The success of No Child Left Behind and of our nation's students depends on great teachers who turn good ideas into positive results. The United States Department of Education selects American Stars of Teaching to bring attention to the excellent classroom teachers who are raising student achievements and using innovative classroom strategies. American Stars of Teaching have been identified in each state and in the District of Columbia, and they represent all grade levels and all subjects.

And this is really why I'm here. I have some really good news. Iowa's Star of Teaching is right here at Lovejoy. Ms. Judy Kinley, would you please stand? (Applause.)

Congratulations. Were you surprised? (Laughter.) This is the most fun part, that it is a surprise. Is your family here? Did you wonder why they showed up? Well, congratulations.

Ms. Kinley has spent many years in the classroom, and she now works as a mentor and a teacher trainer. I got to go this morning to one of her lessons. She was teaching on decimals, and I learned a lot. Ms. Kinley has weekly meetings with teachers, and she helps them go over their lesson plans and make sure that they have all the materials they need for their classes. She works to improve the teaching of English Language Learners. Ms. Kinley knows that when you're learning a new language, it helps to have that language incorporated in every class. So! even math classes at Lovejoy include vocabulary lessons.

And Ms. Kinley organized the Family Math Night to encourage the involvement of parents and all of your moms and dads to make math fun for the whole family. Thanks in large part to Ms. Kinley's work, 100 percent of the students in the second, third, fourth, and fifth grades at Lovejoy made gains on your math tests. So you deserve a round of applause for that. (Applause.)

Your principal, Ms. Floden, says of Ms. Kinley: "She continues to be a model and inspiration for great teaching and learning at Lovejoy. Our only concern is that we have no idea how to clone her."

Ms. Kinley, on behalf of President Bush, thank you so much for caring so deeply about your students' success. Congratulations on being recognized as an American Star of Teaching. (Applause.)

American Stars of Teaching represent the thousands of teachers who make a difference in their communities. Teachers work hard to make sure their students are educated. They bring a lot of love to their jobs. Teaching is a special calling, and teachers deserve our admiration and our respect. So would all of the teachers in the audience stand so we can say thank you? (Applause.)

Thank you for teaching and inspiring your students to be the very best they can be. And I encourage all parents to support teachers and your principals. When parents and faculty support each other and work together, every child benefits.

So students, it's been great fun to be at your school. I want to remind you to do every single assignment your teachers tell you to do this year, and to spend a little bit of time reading every single day.

Thank you so much for showing me your school. Thanks for your concern for the students affected by Hurricane Katrina. Congratulations to Ms. Kinley, and best wishes for a very happy school year. (Applause.)

END 10:51 A.M. CDT

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