Thank you, Mary Alice. Good afternoon everyone. I am honored to be here.
To all of the educators we honor here this afternoon—congratulations. And thank you for educating and inspiring our children.
We can all name a great teacher who changed our lives. A teacher who inspired us. A teacher who made an invaluable contribution toward making us who we are today.
For me, that teacher is Mr. Reis, my sixth grade English teacher.
Vernon Reis opened the world to me through books.
He taught me that while I was physically firmly planted in blue-collar Auburn, Washington in the 50s and early 60s, intellectually I could go anywhere, explore anything, and sample exciting new ideas simply by opening a book.
I was honored to have the chance to publicly thank Mr. Reis in my inaugural address in January. Someday, it may be one of you who is thanked by a governor, senator, or even president.
I know many students will be thanking Tamara Steen [2005 teacher of the year] throughout their lives. Like Mr. Reis, Tamara is an English teacher. Because of her creativity and dedication, there are countless students who attended Mabton Junior/Senior High who will always remember their English class. And they will always remember, and thank, Tamara Steen for bringing out their best. Albert Einstein said, “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge.” Tamara Steen is has mastered this supreme art.
And so it is for every one of you. You change lives every day, and make the world a better place. One student at a time, one day at a time.
You are asked to do so much. We want the best education system in America to be right here in Washington. And it all begins with quality teachers. It begins with you.
It has been said that “A master can tell you what he expects of you. A teacher, though, awakens your own expectations.” Great teachers don’t just help students achieve their dreams. They also help children to unearth their dreams, and discover what they want to be, and what they can be. I can’t think of anything more rewarding than seeing a child discover the potential he or she didn’t realize even exists, and then fulfill that potential.
Indeed, education is the foundation of each child’s future – and our state’s future. Looking out at the outstanding teachers here today, I am confident in the future of our state. I thank you and all our great teachers for educating the next generation of scientists, artists, doctors, farmers, nurses, and governors. Keep up the great work!