Thursday, May 5, 2011

Delivering Paper Violins to Alaskan Senators in DC

National Teacher of the Year Event at the White House with President Obama
While waiting in line to meet the President of the United States, I wondered how much time I'd have to speak with him and what I would say.  For security reasons, the state teachers of the year could not carry anything with them when they entered the Oval Office for their photo with President Obama.  But if I could, I knew exactly what I'd present:  a paper violin carefully handmade by parents and students of our JAMM program.  It would be the perfect segue into a conversation about the importance of arts education.  In the few seconds that I had to shake the President's hand, I told him what an honor it was to meet him and to thank him personally for making children a national priority.  He thanked me for traveling such a long way.

Here is President Obama's address in the Rose Garden before announcing Michelle Shearer as the 2011 National Teacher of the Year.  Michelle represents teachers' voices so well and tackles tough questions with intelligence, heart and determination. 

I did get to spend a short time with Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, and thanked him for keeping the arts on the national education agenda.  With so much focus on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), I encouraged him to include the arts as an equally important discipline.  Instead of STEM, advocate for STEAM!  He shared this wasn't an easy task, but is still trying.

I am proud to say that both Alaskan Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski publicly support arts education.  They made time in their schedules to meet with me to hear about the arts initiatives happening at Glacier Valley Elementary School and about the effects these programs are having on our children socially, emotionally and academically.  Thank you both for your dedication and commitment to Alaska's children.  It was an honor to meet both of you!

Senator Mark Begich

Senator Lisa Murkowski

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