2018 National Teacher of the Year Delivers Address to the Nation

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Washington, D.C. (May 2, 2018) -- The 2018 State Teachers of the Year were honored today at the White House. The following are prepared remarks of 2018 National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning for her speech to the nation that she presented at the White House. Given remarks may have varied from the written remarks.

Thank you for hosting us today and for this tremendous honor. I almost can’t believe it, especially in this surreal moment as I stand in this room among my fellow State Teachers of the Year.

The one thing that anchors me, and teachers across this country, is our students.

I am honored and humbled to be the vehicle through which they may tell their stories. I am here for David, a future IT specialist who hopes to one day be able to attend University. I am here for Tamara, who is currently studying pre-med at Eastern Washington University. I am here for Safa and Tara, both future elementary school teachers. And I am here for Solomon and Gafishi who believe that the United States is the place where they have found the center of their lives, where they can have dreams and hopes to be someone. You see, my students are immigrants and refugees brand new to our nation.

I teach in the Newcomer Center at Ferris High School in Spokane, Washington. All of the students who walk into my classroom have three things in common, they are just learning English, they have escaped trauma to find new lives in our nation, and they are focused and determined to be productive citizens of our United States. And, they succeed.

Consider Safa from Sudan, who recently became a citizen, she had a 4th grade education when she arrived, but graduated in just 4 years and is now a sophomore at university. Or, Hussein from Iraq, who came at 20 years old, but now has a successful cosmetology business. Jeff from Haiti, who studies sociology at Whitworth University to be a counselor. And Neroz and Mohamad from Syria, both profoundly deaf, learning American Sign Language to attend Gallaudet University.

Over the next year, I will be sharing my students’ stories and profound insights into our country throughout the nation. Like Sultan’s, a refugee from Syria, who escaped war in his country, and understands the importance of the United States to be peacemakers. I am here for refugee and immigrant students, for the kids in the gay-straight alliance, and for all the girls I’ve coached over the years, to send them the message that they are wanted, they are loved, they are enough, and they matter. Go out today, seek an experience you have never had before. Get uncomfortable. Challenge your own perceptions to find clarity. Be fearless, be kind, meet someone new.

Thank you for this honor and this opportunity. I will not take it lightly.

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