Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Washington Week: White House Recognition Ceremony

It's 5:12 in the afternoon on a Wednesday - and I'm at home, on the couch, and it's quiet. This hasn't a while.

Back to Washington Week - and THE DAY. White House day.

By this point in the week, I was running on adrenaline. I don't sleep well away from home, and I really don't sleep well with a lot of excitement. That was okay, though. Something like this happens once in a lifetime.
Selfie with New Jersey TOY Kathy Assini and Oregon TOY Brett Bingham

On the bus with California TOY Tim Smith, D.C. TOY Bill Day, and
Wisconsin TOY Jane McMahon - Photo credit Steve Perkins

Waiting for security clearance with Alaska, Wisconsin, Kentucky,
Tennessee, South Carolina, and Idaho - photo credit Steve Perkins

Executive Office Building

We left the hotel around 10:00 for the Executive Office Building for a policy meeting with Ricardo Rodriguez, the special assistant to the President on Education. We were asked for our thoughts and opinions on issues relating to education.
Staircase inside Executive Office Building - Photo credit Kathy Assini

Policy meeting - Photo credit Steve Perkins

Group shot waiting to proceed to White House - Photo credit Kathy Assini

After quickly eating lunch, we made our way to THE White House. Walking into the Cross Halls was a little surreal. We talk about the executive branch in class. I've had my students do projects on the White House and its history in the past. And there I was, standing in it.
Almost there...

The Oval Office is inside...
Inside the Cross Halls

Well, not standing still for very long. As I said in another post, although Thursday was a beautiful day, the rain precluded having the ceremony in the Rose Garden. We quickly entered the State Dining Room to be lined up again by height and then to practice walking into the East Room for the ceremony.
With Maine TOY Karen MacDonald and Minnesota TOY Megan Hall -
Photo credit Kathy Assini

Lining up in the State Dining Room
Practicing walking into the East Room - Photo credit Steve Perkins

All the cameras and lights ready for action!

A great shot Brad took as the guests entered the East Room

With 20 to 30 minutes until "showtime,"  we had some time to view the Red, Blue, and Green Rooms. And take pictures. And sit on the furniture. And be completely in awe that we were school teachers, guests of the president, in the White House. It was exhilarating. I know I'm writing a lot of short, choppy sentences, but truth is that is probably how I was thinking when this was all going on. It was a lot to take in - and capture.
Red Room

Red Room

Posing with the bear - who has a lot of writing to do about all his experiences!

Red Room
Blue Room - Photo credit Allison Riddle

Berkeley chilling in the Blue Room - what a lucky bear!

Where we stood for our picture with the president

Glass of water for the president during pictures is between the lamps
Green Room

Of course I had to get a picture of him in every room.

Beautiful, historic paintings and portraits

View from the window

Gorgeous wisteria - Photo credit Kathy Assini

Soon it was time to line up again - to meet the president. As we stood there, tallest to shortest, it was a little emotional. At least for me. There are 3.3 million teachers in the United States, and 53 of them were about to meet the President. Not only that, I've come a long way. I worked for where I am today - personally and professionally. This was no accident, regardless of what anyone who doesn't know me very well wants to say. I not only represented the teachers of West Virginia that day, but anyone who struggles with anxiety and depression and feels there is no way out. If you work hard, act right, and don't give up, incredible things can happen. I made it out of the darkness, and hopefully when this experience is over with, I'm able to share it with others and give them hope.

We were quickly and efficiently introduced to President Obama for a picture in the Blue Room. It seemed so unreal to be shaking hands with him and posing for a picture that I wasn't the least bit nervous. I was excited and happy, and he was very nice in the 20 seconds I had to speak and get my picture taken with him. We will receive this picture later this year (but in the meantime, I have a stand-in picture with the president that will hold me over until then - keep reading).

From there, we were introduced to those assembled in the East Room for the ceremony. I knew that I was going to be in the first row, but did not realize I was going to be on the live stream for almost the entire time until I felt the light of the camera on me when Arne Duncan moved over. Then I was really excited, because I knew the kids at Tomahawk were watching the ceremony. It has been hard being away from the classroom and my students this year...but how many times to you get to see your teacher live on camera standing next to the President? Brad took some of these pictures from the audience, and the rest are screenshots and pictures Heather took from her classroom.

Being introduced

Waiting for the president to enter

National Teacher of the Year Sean McComb addressing the audience

Pictures from classroom at Tomahawk



After the ceremony, we had a few minutes to be with our guests before being ushered out of the White House to "Pebble Beach," where they hold press conferences. We walked out the lobby...and out of the front doors of the White House. You know when they say "larger than life?" Walking...out the front doors of the White House, through those gigantic columns and down those beautiful white stairs...THAT was larger than life. I don't think I breathed until my feet hit the asphalt.
Quick picture with Brad in the Green Room before guests had to leave

Walking into the lobby

Just walked out the doors...

Heading to Pebble Beach


So long...

One more picture!!!
I will never forget one moment of that day for the rest of my life. It's now 7:34, and I'm tired just from reliving this day, in this post. The Chief Council of State School Officers (CCSSO), Voya (formerly ING), SMART Technologies, University of Phoenix, and People to People Ambassador Programs give the state teachers of the year a priceless gift of recognition and appreciation by sponsoring and arranging this week. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to represent West Virginia in our nation's capital.

Okay, this is the last picture - Photo credit Anna Baldwin

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what an amazing, once in a lifetime experience! I got all excited reading about your time at the White House and viewing the pictures! Congratulations!