WASHINGTON – Top teachers from each state were praised by President Bush at the White House on Wednesday, along with four beaming students who came along as guests of the teacher who won top honors.
Jason Kamras (search), an eight-year math and social studies instructor at John Philip Sousa Middle School in Washington, was named Tuesday as the 2005 Teacher of the Year (search). He is credited with reshaping the math curriculum at his school by using technology, adapting lessons to different learning styles and giving classes a real-world context.
Bush told how Kamras is known for giving students individual attention, even after they leave middle school. The president said one former student credited Kamras with helping him study for college entrance exams and become the first in his family to study beyond high school.
"Gosh, it must make you feel good as teachers to have somebody say, 'You made a lot of difference in my life, you are a true friend,'" Bush said.
As Kamras accepted a crystal apple award from Bush, four teenagers sitting in the Rose Garden audience beamed smiles and aimed their cell phone cameras to capture the moment. Kamras recognized them as the reason he loves teaching, and they joined their teacher on the small stage with the president and first lady.
Mrs. Bush, a former teacher, said she was especially glad to see so many men in the audience of state honorees. "More men are needed in our classrooms, more who can teach by example showing young boys, particularly — many who are growing up without fathers in their homes — how to be responsible, caring adults," she said.
The title turns Kamras into a roving ambassador for his profession for one year, and his main message is one of equity — meaning more money and help for schools in poorer areas.
A committee of representatives from 14 national education groups chose Kamras from the state teachers of the year, who were nominated by students, teachers and administrators. The winning teacher is selected based on abilities to inspire students, earn the respect of parents and colleagues, serve as a community leader and withstand a demanding schedule.