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President Bush Honors This Year's Teacher of the Year

Aired April 24, 2002 - 10:27   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Now we take you live right now to the Rose Garden in the White House. President Bush is honoring this year's teacher of the year.

Let's listen in.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... give our teachers a great responsibility; to shape the minds and hopes of our children. We owe them our thanks and our praise and our support.

I wish the first lady would be here today. She reminds me on a daily basis of the importance of being a teacher. When I married her she was a public school librarian. She really didn't care for politics much.


Didn't particularly care for politicians.


But I'm so glad she said yes when I asked her to marry me. She's a great first lady and loves the idea of teaching. And one of her jobs is to go around the country and remind people of the noble profession of teaching and encourage people to become teachers.

I appreciate Secretary Rod Paige. I've known Rod a long time. We're fellow Texans. When I picked somebody to be the secretary of education, I didn't want some theorist; I wanted somebody that had actually been in the trenches, who understood the importance of public education and how to make it work.

BUSH: And I found the right man in my friend, Rod Paige, to be the secretary of education.


I want to thank two members of the United States Congress, Judd Gregg with whom I worked closely on the education bill we passed -- he's from the state of New Hampshire; Todd Tiahrt from the state of Kansas. Thank you both for coming.

(APPLAUSE) I just had the honor of having my picture taken in the Oval Office with 57 teachers of the year. And it was joyous. It was great. I want to thank you all for coming.


Seemed like some of you were just as excited as I was to welcome...


But it's a great office, as you can see. It's such an honor to be in that office on a daily basis, just like I know you feel it's an honor to be in your classrooms on a daily basis.

So congratulations. Thanks so much for being a teacher. Thanks for setting such a great example, and welcome.

I also want to thank and congratulate our four finalists, Marion Galbreath (ph), Henry Brown (ph), Tracy Taylor Callard (ph), and Chauncey Veatch. I'm going to say something about Chauncey a little later on. Before I do so, though, I want America to remember how important it is to have good teachers in our classrooms.

Teachers help students to read and write and to think and to count. These skills are essential, yet teaching them is only a part of the teacher's work. A good teacher instills in her students a lifelong interest in learning. A good teacher gives young people a sense of their own possibilities, along with the respect for themselves and for others.

To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The greatest teacher makes others believe in greatness, and they leave a lasting mark on the lives around them." And that's why it's easy for me to say, "Teaching is such a profound profession." Teachers are indispensable. We ask a lot from them; and teachers are right to expect a lot from us.

I believe there's a role for the federal government in public education: The role is to work with local folks to set the highest of high standards and to expect the best. It's to support people at the local level with a full understanding that the best education emanates out of the classrooms, not from bureaucracies in Washington, D.C. The role is to fund, which we do. And the role is to support our teachers -- the teacher training, retention and recruitment -- as well as to understand that simple things can matter to teachers a lot, like allowing for there to be a tax deduction for out-of-pocket expenses. We'll take the side of teachers, as we work hard to provide a first- class education for every child, and we mean every child in America.

This year's National Teacher of the Year understands the need to make sure no child gets left behind.

BUSH: He's made extraordinary contributions to his students, two of whom are with us today. I'm so honored that both of these gentlemen came from California all the way over here to Washington to honor a teacher. It says a lot about our honoree. This is a man who spent more than 25 years serving his country in the United States Army -- Colonel Veatch. After serving in the Army, turned to teaching, over a decade ago.

He now teaches social studies at Coach Yellow Valley (ph) High in Thermal, California, where the overwhelming number of his students come from migrant families. Chauncey Veatch is known as a kind and courteous, a tireless worker, a team player, a man who has transformed the school in which he works and the community in which he lives.

Nearly all of the students at Coach Yellow Valley High School.

[Speaking in Spanish.]

He speaks Spanish. He uses the language to communicate with his students and to show respect for a culture.

He's involved in many afterschool programs and community events. In short, he's changed a lot of lives for the better.

Through Chauncey Veatch's efforts, students long considered discipline problems started showing up on the honor roll. A teen with a learning disability, who read at the elementary school level became an active participant in class.

Boys dropped out of gangs to join the cadet corps, the student campus security force that he helped organize.

One migrant student at the high school had to work with his family until November, but Mr. Veatch saved him a place in his class and then spent hours with the student helping him catch up. According to this young man, "Mr. Veatch does this for all of his migrant students." No child will be left behind.

Mr. Veatch's former principal, Rick Alvarez (ph), has paid this tribute to him, "Believing our students can succeed," Rick says, "is not a desire or a facade, but is actually something Chauncey lives."

BUSH: This caring can be seen in his eyes and heard in his voice and felt in his presence and mostly seen in his actions. Chauncey Veatch says his mission as a teacher is to be a dream-maker for my students, not a dream-breaker. He understands that parents of every background share the same dreams for their children; dreams of improvement and independence and hope. To dream is to be filled with hope, he says. I know this because I see the faces of hope daily.

We want all our schools and all our teachers and principals to look at our children and see the faces of hope, and that's exactly what the teachers we honor today have done on a daily basis.

Mr. Veatch's teaching is not just a career, it is a high-calling. It's a form of service to children and to a nation he loves. He has served both the children and our country extraordinarily well, and it is my honor to present Chauncey Veatch the National Teacher of the Year Award. Congratulations.



Mr. President, Mr. Secretary on behalf of all the teachers here today and the more than thee million teachers across the nation.

Thank you.

Today serves as a reminder for all of us why we are teacher. In a democracy, there's no undertaking that is more fundamental an important than educating our children. To ensure our rights, and our privileges and opportunities as Americans, the most formidable weapon we have in our arsenal is education. There's nothing more patriotic than one can do in his career or her career than become a teacher, for we teach the children of destiny.


These are the children who can create a world that lives in peace. So what I would like to share today is, if you would like to be a part of America's tomorrows, become a teacher today.




BUSH: Thanks very much. Thank you all for coming.

KAGAN: We were listening to some very short words there from a man who uses his words to do incredible work, Chauncey Veatch. He is the national teacher of the year.

I just want to take a chance to tell you a little bit about him. He is a retired Army colonel. Once he retired, he was in the Coach Yellow Valley, and called the local school district and said he wanted to be substitute teacher. Instead, the signed him up to be a science teacher right away. He purposefully asked for kids who have had a tough time, either legal trouble or perhaps learning some disabilities, and he likes to work with the children of migrant farm workers as well.

Colonel Breach was an Army brat himself, and he understood what it means to have to move from one place to another. Heeded for this work in the Coach Yellow Valley High School in California, is the national teacher of the year. Very inspirational.




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