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For Immediate Release
Office of the First Lady
June 12, 2002

Mrs. Bush's Remarks for Teach for America San Francisco
As Delivered
San Francisco, California

Thank you.

Congratulations to Teach For America for your latest expansion. Welcome to San Francisco!

Wendy, thanks to your leadership and persistence, more than a million children have benefited from Teach for America teachers. Over the past year applications for TFA have gone up by 180 percent, and I think that says a lot about Americans and their dedication to the bright future of our nation's children.

Teachers -- and future teachers - honorees, and guests...thank you for being here, and thanks for caring deeply about the children of America.

I can't think of a better cause than bringing more excellent teachers into America's schools. Children need our love and support; and they especially need devoted teachers and strong role models.

Teachers do much more than teach. They are role models and mentors, and they have lasting effects on our lives.

Journalist David Shribman spent a year asking people about the role teachers had played in their lives. The often humorous and heart-warming answers were compiled into a book titled, "I remember my teacher."

A writer in Washington, D.C. said, "I remember Mary Kay Banner. She taught at Thaddeus Stevens Elementary School in Clarion Pennsylvania. I thought she was really old at the time, but of course she wasn't. She played piano, and so we sang between classes. She was the best teacher I ever had because she was the happiest teacher I ever had."

An urban planner in Massachusetts said, "I remember Miss Heldegarde Biskey. She opened each day of third grade with a book, an anthology of poetry. She told us to close our eyes as we listened to the poem of the day. At first the poems were short, but as they year progressed, they grew longer. In high school I learned the finer points of poetry mechanics...but it was never as fun, or as free, as it was with Miss Biskey. She introduced to us the beauty of words and taught us that life is poetry."

...and the superintendent of schools in Concord, New Hampshire, said, "I remember Miss Gray. She taught first grade in North Quincy, Massachusetts. I remember her with graying hair, wearing gray, and looking gray. But I remember one thing: She taught me how to read."

To say that a teacher has a profound impact on a student's life is only half of the story, because students have just as much of an impact on their teachers.

A TFA Corps member named Michelle Culver who works in Compton, California, said:

"Every morning when I get out of my car, students will run up to me - children I don't even know, in other classes - and they'll ask, "Ms. Culver, can I help you carry anything?"

Michelle said, "The children want to support you. They want you to lead them in this vision, in this belief that every student can and will succeed. As I work to inspire, I am inspired."

Teach For America succeeds because of people like Michelle and the Corps members who are here tonight. And Teach For America can continue to succeed and expand its good work with your help.

Thank you for your generosity and for caring about the children of our nation, and congratulations to TFA as you settle into your new home in San Francisco.

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