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Teacher of the year

Mary Beth Blegen, the 1996 teacher of the year, was honored by President Clinton in a White House ceremony last week.

Ms. Blegen, 52, teaches history, humanities, literature, and writing at Worthington Senior High School in Worthington, Minn.

"She is the embodiment of the all-American teacher--a hard-working, dedicated, caring person, always working to do better," said the president.

Over her 30-year career, Ms. Blegen has adapted her teaching to changes in Worthington. The area was once mostly white, rural, and middle-class, but has evolved into a more ethnically and economically diverse community.

"Her greatest achievement has been her ability to help her students understand the complex relationships that exist in our changing world," Mr. Clinton said.

"Every one of us here as a teacher today goes day after day into her or his schoolroom and practices what we believe to be the most important work," Ms. Blegen said.

The program is sponsored by the Council of Chief State School Officers and Scholastic Inc., a publisher of children's periodicals.

A panel representing 14 education groups selects a winner from among the teachers of the year in each state and U.S. territory, who are chosen under the direction of state education agencies.

In a week when the Republican-controlled Congress agreed to many of his budgetary demands, President Clinton used the event to praise lawmakers "for working in a bipartisan way for the American people."

He cited recently passed legislation on health care and terrorism and called on Congress to maintain the bipartisan momentum and pass a seven-year balanced-budget plan.

"Our plans have in common more than enough savings to balance the budget, provide tax relief to working families, and reflect our values by protecting the structures of Medicare and Medicaid, and our commitment to education and a clean environment," Mr. Clinton said, hitting themes his re-election campaign is expected to stress.

--Adrienne D. Coles

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