People in the News
Betsy Rogers, an elementary school teacher in Jefferson County, Ala., was honored as the 2003 National Teacher of the Year at a ceremony in the First Lady's Garden at the White House last week.
Ms. Rogers, 51, teaches at the 600-student Leeds Elementary School. She is the 53rd teacher to receive the national honor and the first from Alabama.
President Bush praised Ms. Rogers' dedication at the April 30 ceremony, which also honored the state teachers of the year.
"[Ms. Rogers] could have her pick of any school—yet she chooses to teach in a school in an underprivileged rural area because she believes that devoted teachers and principals can make a difference in the lives of students from every background," the president said.
A 15-member committee representing national education organizations chose Ms. Rogers for the award, which is sponsored by the Washington-based Council of Chief State School Officers and the New York City-based Scholastic Inc.
The National Teacher of the Year is released from her teaching duties for a year, but still receives her full salary and benefits during that time.
Ms. Rogers began teaching in 1974. Following an eight-year hiatus to stay at home with her two sons and then teach kindergarten in a church program, she returned to work in public schools in 1984. After teaching 7th and 8th grade math for a year, she became a 1st and 2nd grade teacher.
Ms. Rogers, who holds certification from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, introduced the "looping" technique to her school district in 1997. Looping is when a teacher stays with the same class for two consecutive years.
In her acceptance of the award, Ms. Rogers said: "Our children are our hope for tomorrow and a promise for a better day. ... All of us want to live in a country where our legacy to the world is how we've taken care of our children."
For the next year, in addition to public appearances, Ms. Rogers will be meeting with teachers, administrators, and lawmakers to stress the need for equity in education.
—Catherine A. Carroll
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Vol. 22, Issue 34, Page 5Published in Print: May 7, 2003, as People in the News