Bush Names Teacher of the Year

ByABC News
April 26, 2006, 4:58 PM

April 26, 2006 — -- President Bush presented Maryland kindergarten teacher Kimberly Oliver with the National Teacher of the Year award today and highlighted the importance of teachers in building the future of the country.

"Kim Oliver understands that the key to helping children succeed is fighting the soft bigotry of low expectations," the president said, citing one of the key tenets of his own education policy. "When a teacher believes that a child can learn, it's amazing what happens -- a student believes that he or she can learn."

Oliver teaches at Broad Acres Elementary School in Silver Spring, Md. She is the 56th national teacher of the year and the first from Maryland.

Broad Acres has the highest level of poverty of any school in Montgomery Country. Ninety percent of Oliver's students qualify for federally subsidized meals, and nearly 80 percent do not speak English at home.

President Bush talked about how Oliver was inspired at a young age to go into education by one of her own teachers. "It's really interesting for teachers to hear what she said. She said, 'As a young child, I loved and admired my day care teacher, Mrs. Chandler. I wanted to be just like her.  Mrs. Chandler made me feel special, as if I were the only child in her class,'" Bush said.

Bush took the opportunity to talk about his own education policy goals, which are centered around the No Child Left Behind Act, and his new American competitiveness initiative, which focuses on helping students improve in math and science.

"Improving the quality of education for young Americans requires good laws and good policies, but ultimately it depends on good teachers," he said.

At the event, held on the sunny South Lawn at the White House, first lady Laura Bush made a point of thanking the teachers along the Gulf Coast who've been working under difficult conditions.

"Caring and devoted teachers provide children with a stable, nurturing classroom environment, even as they're rebuilding their own homes and lives," she said.