National Teacher of the Year Honored

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An Oregon middle school teacher received one of the highest honors as an educator, Wednesday.

Seventh grade teacher Michael Geisen accepted the annual National Teacher of the Year award, presented by President Bush at the White House.

Click the play button to watch the ceremony.

Geisen has taught science at Crook County Middle School for seven years. During his acceptance speech, he retold a funny story about a friend of his young son.

"Last fall, my five-year-old son Aspen told his good friend Brady, one day at school, 'My dad is the Oregon Teacher of the Year, and he gets to meet the President of the United States.'" Giesen said. "And his buddy, Brady, was all excited."

"He came running out of school that day, and he told his mom, 'Mom, Mom, Aspen's dad is Teacher of the Year... and he gets to be the President of the United States," he said.

"I actually just turned 35 on Sunday, so I am now constitutionally legal to run for office," Geisen quipped.

The anecdote drew laughter from the crowd. But it served as a good example of what motivated him to work with kids.

"I think this really brings up a notable quality about children that we often overlook as adults," he said. "If they're not sure about something, they will give it a shot anyway. They'll just go for it. Children have this tremendous creative capacity and this natural curiosity about the world that I think as adults that we can really learn from, and that we would really do well to foster."

Geisen thinks this creativity should be encouraged in the school system, along with basic subjects, to build an entrepreneurial nature in kids.

"We, as the United States in the 21st century, have this unique opportunity, a tremendous opportunity to fulfill an emerging niche in the world economy if we educate our children to do more than just do math, reading and writing," he said.

Geisen will spend the rest of the year away from the classroom, traveling as a spokesperson for his profession, an opportunity each National Teacher of the Year receives.

"The further from children one is, the easier it becomes to forget that we are dealing with real live human beings with legitimate needs, desires, and feelings," he said. "These young people are our equals. They are not simply numbers, conglomerations of hormones, or future products."

"All the latest programs, fads, and statistics are meaningless to a child who isn't cared for on a deeper level," he said.

Since 1952, the National Teacher of the Year program has focused on excellence in teaching. Recipients are chosen from the State Teachers of the Year by a national selection committee.

Each April, the National Teacher of the Year is introduced by the President of the United States.

Sources: The White House, Council of Chief State School Officers, The Associated Press

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