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From The White House, A Celebration Of Great Teaching

President Obama escorts 2015 National Teacher of the Year winner Shanna Peeples into the Rose Garden on Wednesday. With them is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Peeples is an English teacher at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas.
Kevin Lamarque
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Reuters/Landov
President Obama escorts 2015 National Teacher of the Year winner Shanna Peeples into the Rose Garden on Wednesday. With them is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Peeples is an English teacher at Palo Duro High School in Amarillo, Texas.

No matter how high you climb in life, you never forget your favorite teacher.

This week, President Obama awarded Shanna Peeples, a high school English teacher from Amarillo, Texas, the title of the 2015 National Teacher of the Year.

We've been exploring great teaching as well, with our 50 Great Teachers Project. We even shared the stories of our own favorite teachers.

This week, the president wrote his own version:

"When I entered Ms. Hefty's fifth-grade class at Punahou School in the fall of 1971, I was just a kid with a funny name in a new school, feeling a little out of place, hoping to fit in like anyone else.

The first time she called on me, I wished she hadn't. In fact, I wished I were just about anywhere else but at that desk, in that room of children staring at me.

But over the course of that year, Ms. Hefty taught me that I had something to say — not in spite of my differences, but because of them. She made every single student in that class feel special.

And she reinforced that essential value of empathy that my mother and my grandparents had taught me. That is something that I carry with me every day as President."

Want more? Listen, watch and read a lot more about educators making a difference:

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Elissa Nadworny reports on all things college for NPR, following big stories like unprecedented enrollment declines, college affordability, the student debt crisis and workforce training. During the 2020-2021 academic year, she traveled to dozens of campuses to document what it was like to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. Her work has won several awards including a 2020 Gracie Award for a story about student parents in college, a 2018 James Beard Award for a story about the Chinese-American population in the Mississippi Delta and a 2017 Edward R. Murrow Award for excellence in innovation.
Owen Phillips