Iowa teacher honored as U.S.'s best

April 29, 2010 at 5:31 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 29 (UPI) -- President Barack Obama Thursday bestowed the national 2010 Teacher of the Year award on Iowa high school teacher Sarah Brown Wessling.

Brown, who teaches at Johnson High School in Johnson, Iowa, was honored during a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House also attended by colleagues, members of the Iowa congressional delegation, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president and an adjunct college English professor.

Obama lauded Brown for the passion, patience, skill, experience and determination she employs in her classroom.

"That's why she creates individualized podcasts for each student with extensive feedback on their papers, prompting one parent to report that his own writing had improved just by listening to Sarah's comments to ... his daughter," Obama said.

The president went on to note Brown also helped develop 15 new courses this year alone.

"And her students don't just write five-paragraph essays, but they write songs, public service announcements, film storyboards, even grant proposals for their own not-for-profit organizations," he said, adding she also mentors other teachers, organized a statewide teaching symposium, helped design Iowa's core curriculum, served as president of the Iowa Council of Teachers of English and raised three children.

"With Sarah as a teacher," the president said, "good students have become great students. Students who had been discouraged and disengaged have discovered a passion for learning. And many of her students have gone on to become teachers themselves, one of the best tributes any teacher could ask for."

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