“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”
Since earning the title “Arizona Teacher of the Year,” late last year from the Arizona Education Foundation, Mesa’s Skyline High School’s Nancie Lindblom said that’s a message she’s heard over and over again.
“Thank you for the work you do.”
“Thank you for being a teacher.”
As honored as she is by the expressions of gratitude, she wants all Arizona teachers to know the words are not meant just for her.
They’re meant for all of them.
Lindblom returned to school Monday following a week-long trip to Washington D.C., where the AP government and history teacher spent every moment trying to soak in the all the events shared with the other 53 nominees for national teacher of the year.
“Everywhere you went people were praising you as a teacher and saying wonderful things and there were inspiring teachers giving speeches and all these people talking about the wonders of teachers and the impact you can make and there’s this continual thank you,” Lindblom said. “I kept thinking, I wish every teacher could experience what I’m experiencing. Everywhere I go people are excited about what I say about teaching and they’re receptive to what I think we can do to better teaching.”
“So often as teachers we don’t get that feedback. We don’t get that feedback on a day-to-day basis,” she said. “I’m getting this great positive feedback that I would love for every teacher in Arizona.”
The highlight of the trip was a visit to the White House to meet President Barack Obama.
“This was the biggest dream come true for a history and government teacher. I have been looking forward to this from the moment they said, ‘You are teacher of the year,’” she said. “The fact that we got to meet him in the Oval Office was so incredible. I’ve gone through the story six times today with my students.”
Each of the local winners spent a few brief minutes one-on-one with the president.
“The woman in front of me went in and I stood on the edge of the Oval Office. I thought the minute I walk in I’m going to forget everything going on around me. I wanted to take it all in,” she recalled.
With encouragement from her students, Lindblom shared her opinion on her favorite president – Abraham Lincoln – knowing that Lincoln is also Obama’s favorite. With that news, Obama said, “Then you’ll want to see this,” and walked Lindbom over to a part of the Oval Office displaying the Emancipation Proclamation.
“It was phenomenal,” she said.
Lindblom is excited about some of the initiatives she heard about in Washington, including one that would give master teachers a few hours in the classroom with students daily, but also time to observe new teachers and offer advice on how they can improve.
“If we could do this in Arizona and across America, we would have better teachers and better educators and make them grow to become master teachers,” she said. “It’s this whole system designed to encourage and make teachers better. I think so often in the first three, four years of teaching — we lose most teachers in the first five years — I often think it’s because they don’t get enough support.”
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