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Teaching Profession

Former Teacher of the Year Responds to Obama’s Speech

By Bryan Toporek — September 14, 2010 1 min read

Our EW colleague Sean Cavanagh reported about Pres. Obama’s back-to-school speech earlier today, so we’re not going to spend too much time repeating him. (Be sure to check out his entry for information about Obama’s speech, though.)

What piqued our interest in the speech, admittedly, was the presence of former Teacher blogger Anthony Mullen, the 2009 National Teacher of the Year, on CNN’s expert panel.

Immediately following the speech, CNN asked Mullen what he’ll take away most from Obama’s remarks. Mullen replied, “We hear a lot about the responsibilities that teachers have, and the responsibilities that parents have, but Obama focused on the responsibilities that students have. We don’t hear that very often.”

Indeed, Obama stressed the importance of hard work and effort for students in his speech, saying that “nobody gets to write your destiny but you.” The president even related a story from his schooling days, where a casual-about-his-future Obama received a tough lesson from his mother.

“‘You can’t just sit around,’ she said, ‘waiting for luck to see you through,’ She said I could get into any school in the country if I just put in a little effort. Then she gave me a hard look and added, ‘Remember what that’s like? Effort?’”

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teaching Now blog.