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

For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
October 14, 2005

Mrs. Bush's Remarks at the Preserve America History Teacher of the Year Award Ceremony
The Union League Club
New York, New York

10:32 A.M. EDT

MRS. BUSH: Thank you, Dr. Basker, and thanks to everyone here for being here to celebrate our history, and a great teacher. I want to especially welcome the students who are here. I'm grateful to Richard Gilder, who is with us, and Lewis Lehrman, who couldn't be with us today, for sponsoring this award with Preserve America.

Special thanks to John Nau of Preserve America for joining the Gilder Lehrman and Preserve America Institute with this award.

Gilder Lehrman and Preserve America have a common mission, and that is to promote the history and the culture of the United States. The eminent historian David McCullough has said, "The work of history -- writing history, teaching history -- calls for mind and heart." To best understand the people of the past, we must make a connection with them.

Great history teachers use artifacts and primary source material to help students develop a deeper appreciation for our shared heritage. A picture speaks volumes if it's an image of tired soldiers on a Civil War battlefield, or determined students asserting their equality at a soda shop counter. A musical recording can capture the energy of an era, or an old radio show can let us hear what our parents and grandparents -- what made our parents and grandparents laugh when they were young. The journal of a pioneer heading west expresses the hope and fear felt by so many Americans who made that arduous journey.

Today, I know Dr. Taylor talked to you about Abraham Lincoln. And certainly, the President and I, who live with the artifacts of Abraham Lincoln in the White House, have a very deep respect for all of the people in our country who came before us, who paved the way for each one of us. And certainly, living where we live, we have a special fondness and a special respect for Abraham Lincoln.

We're also encouraged by the lives of the people before us. When you study our history, when you know the challenges that each generation has faced, and when you see how each generation has overcome those challenges and then has dealt with them, then it gives us courage that we, too, can overcome the challenges of our time.

When students see history, when they hear it, when they touch it right in their classroom, they learn the way people before them experienced the world.

All of the 2005 state history teachers of the year deserve a round of applause for keeping history fresh in their classrooms. (Applause.)

And I'd especially like to thank the state coordinators of the History Teacher of the Year program. They do much of the work that makes this award possible.

One of the responsibilities of each year's national History Teacher of the Year is to serve as a judge for the next year. Kathy Kean won the first award last year in 2004, and she's with us today. Thank you so much, Kathy. (Applause.)

Now it's my pleasure to announce the 2005 National History Teacher of the Year, Rosanne Lichatin. (Applause.)

Mrs. Lichatin has been teaching for 30 years. She says that over those 30 years she's been thrilled every day to walk into the classroom. The parent of one of her students wrote, "Mrs. Lichatin's enthusiasm for history is infectious."

For the last 20 years Rosanne has been a teacher at West Morris Central High School in New Jersey, where she's had a profound influence on her students, their parents, and her peers. Rosanne teaches U.S. History -- from introductory through Advanced Placement -- and she supervises projects for students in the International Baccalaureate program.

As the leader of the local chapter of the National History Club, Mrs. Lichatin takes students on walking tours through their community. Frequently, they explore the rich history of New York City, and members of the club even walked across the Brooklyn Bridge to better understand that architectural masterpiece.

Rosanne says that her students have the most fun when they debate historical topics. This year, students have debated the effects of Puritan culture on America. Last year, students became the Founding Fathers, arguing over independence from Great Britai n and the ratification of the Constitution. One former student of Mrs. Lichatin's, who is now a teacher himself, said, "In Mrs. Lichatin's class we didn't learn history, we lived it."

Rosanne's own interest in history was sparked in the ninth grade, by a teacher who captivated her with his story-telling ability. And Mrs. Lichatin is still an eager student. Through the Teaching American History grant and the Gilder Lehrman Institute, Rosanne has met with distinguished historians who share new information about their specialties. She meets with master teachers who help her incorporate new ideas and techniques into her lessons. Rosanne said these lectures and meetings reenergize her about American history.

There's no question that Rosanne Lichatin will continue to bring energy to her classroom. When she found out that she was being honored as the 2005 National History Teacher of the Year, her first thought was, "Now I've got to live up to this honor every day." (Laughter.)

Well, we know she'll live up to this honor every day. Congratulations, Roseanne, and thank you for your very important work with the students. Congratulations. (Applause.)

Now it's my pleasure to introduce two people who know Mrs. Lichatin very well, two of her students. And I told them that nothing pleases a teacher more than to be recognized in public by her students. So please welcome West Morris Central High School students Kathleen Griese and Jesse Regis. (Applause.)

END 10:40 A.M. EDT

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