Jill Biden surprises teacher of the year during TV interview

‘For so long teacher were undervalued, but now hopefully all of America after this pandemic has seen what teachers have done’

Clara Hill@clara_ish
Thursday 06 May 2021 20:02
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Jill Biden surprises teacher of the year during TV interview
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The National Teacher of the Year 2021 had a surprise guest of honour to help make her award even more special - Jill Biden.

The first lady, who works as a professor at a community college, made an unannounced drop into this year’s winner Juliana Urtubey classroom, who works at an elementary school in Las Vegas.

She greeted the winner with a large bouquet of flowers as an offer of congratulations.

Dr Biden has been touring the country, stopping in on various schools and colleges drumming up support for President Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan and American Families Plan. It is particularly meaningful to her as she teaches at Northern Virginia Community College.

“For so long teacher were undervalued, but now hopefully all of America after this pandemic has seen what teachers have done and how they’ve just taken care of our kids. It’s been such a hard time. Teachers have risen to this moment,” Dr Biden said.

Ms Urtubey was interviewed on CBS’s This Morning before being surprised by Dr Biden.

She said to Gayle King, “It’s been tough, it’s been a hard year. We’ve been through a lot of loss. We’re here though, We’re here, and we're doing well, and we are doing our best to stay connected.”

Before she was interviewed, she was played testimony by Ms King from her students and family about how hard Ms Urtubey had worked for them, especially during the pandemic. Her role involves teaching students with special educational needs.

Ms Uberubey was given the award by the Council of Chief State School Officers, who say she is the first Latino to win the award since 2005.

“Juliana Urtbuey exemplifies the dedication, creativity and heart teachers bring to their students and communities,” Carissa Moffat, the CEO of the council said.

For the last 11 years, Ms Urtubey has taught children in elementary schools, tailoring lessons to their individual requirements, whether it be academic, emotional or behavioural and works across a wide variety of ages. She has helped everyone from kindergarteners, fifth graders and given assistance to teachers on how to best help their students.

She said her method was to consider each child’s personality, interests, family and community to best consider how to help them learn. She said that her own experience with education really made a mark on her. As a child, she moved to the US from Columbia and was sent to a bilingual magnet school before her family relocated.

This emphasised to her how vital it was a school “really knows how to nurture and uplift” students by taking their individuality into account.

Recently, Ms Urtubey moved to a new job at Kermit R. Booker Sr Innovative Elementary School where she intends to create a “joyous and just education” for her students.

Each year, the winner of the National Teacher of the Year Award take part in a ceremony led by the President each spring however the pandemic has caused it to be postponed for the second year running. They intend to reschedule a ceremony with Ms Urtubey and the 2020 winner, Tabatha Rosproy when it is safe to do so.

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