White House Holds Ceremony Honoring Union's National Teacher Of The Year

Oklahoma high school math teacher Rebecka Peterson — the state’s teacher of the year — was formally recognized as the National Teacher of the Year Monday in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.

Monday, April 24th 2023, 5:35 pm

By: News On 6, News 9


-

Oklahoma high school math teacher Rebecka Peterson — the state’s teacher of the year — was formally recognized as the National Teacher of the Year Monday in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House.

"We're here to take a moment, on one of the biggest stages in the world, the White House, to say that teachers change lives," said First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, who has taught more than 30 years and currently is a full-time community college teacher in Virginia.

Dr. Biden greeted the more than 50 state Teachers of the Year seated in the audience and then gave a special welcome to Oklahoma's Teacher of the Year: "The 2023 National Teacher of the Year, Rebecka Peterson!"

Since the announcement of the award last week, the Union High School math teacher has been applauded nationally for dedicating herself, through her teaching and her 'One Good Thing' blog, to inspiring her students to be forces for good in the community.

"I want to bring the good news of joy and hope to my students," Peterson said in her speech, "and to reciprocate that gift of education that my teachers gave me."

The immigrant child of Swedish and Iranian parents, Peterson is the first Oklahoma teacher to win the national award since 1964 and the third overall.

"As educators, we stand with one foot firmly grounded in the reality of what is, while the other stands in the promise of what can be," Peterson stated. "We are fueled by the equalizing power of public education to dismantle marginalization, eliminate systemic inequities, and end generational poverty!"

"She's pretty good," said President Biden in an obvious understatement after being introduced by Peterson. "Holy mackerel!"

Biden praised Peterson's work and devotion, and that of all teachers: "You teachers hold the kite strings that lift our national ambitions aloft, you really do," said Biden. "Imagine, imagine, imagine -- just imagine, if we didn't have great teachers in this country."

The Biden administration has pushed to raise the profile of teachers, not to mention, their pay. Biden warned of dire consequences if House Republicans were somehow able to push through their plan to cut discretionary spending back to FY 2022 levels, saying it could result in tens of thousands of teachers losing their jobs.

"Every single one of us is here, at least in part," said the president, "because somewhere along the way we had a teacher believe in us."

Peterson congratulated her fellow honorees and urged them to continue being role models for their students.

"May we walk this life together with open hearts and open hands, because...in the end, maybe we're all -- all of us," she said, gesturing to those seated in the crowd, "just walking each other home."

Peterson thanked the audience and received a standing ovation.

logo

Get The Daily Update!

Be among the first to get breaking news, weather, and general news updates from News on 6 delivered right to your inbox!

More Like This

April 24th, 2023

November 18th, 2022

May 18th, 2022

December 3rd, 2021

Top Headlines

April 17th, 2024

April 17th, 2024

April 17th, 2024

April 17th, 2024