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Members of Congress vote for "Most Memorable" teachers

WASHINGTON—Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle are paying tribute to the teachers who shaped their lives, whether it was a drama coach, a college political science professor or a tutor who helped them overcome dyslexia.  For National Teacher Day, Tuesday, May 9, the National Education Association has collected a list of teachers who made a lasting impression on America's elected officials and inspired them to become who they are today.

"Every child's road to success begins with a simple dream and someone who cares," said NEA President Reg Weaver.  "This week, members of Congress are honoring the special teachers who motivated them and challenged them to aim high.  Their testimonials are a timely reminder of the importance of patience, discipline and encouragement in a child's life."

NEA's "Most Memorable Teachers List," (www.nea.org/teacherday) containing the favorite teachers of more than 120 members of Congress, provides a snapshot of the teachers who made an impact on the lives of politicians.  It includes candid comments about what made these educators so memorable.

For some lawmakers, their most memorable teachers were the first minority teachers at their schools.

Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., said he will never forget the Rev. John Walker: "He was the first African-American teacher at our school, and he got us interested in the growing civil rights movement."  And for Rep. Ed Pastor, D-Ariz., his science teacher was the only Mexican-American teacher at his high school and "inspired me to overcome any barriers in order to achieve my goals."

"I'm proud to say on National Teacher Day that America's children are in excellent hands—they are being taught by the most experienced teachers ever," said Weaver.  "But there are areas we must address in order to ensure great public schools for every child.  We have too many teachers leaving the profession and too few teachers of color in the profession.  It is more important than ever to focus our efforts on recruiting and retaining qualified teachers for our children."

NEA celebrates National Teacher Day each year on Tuesday of the first full week of May.  The day celebrates the outstanding work and lifelong dedication of teachers nationwide.  This year's theme is Great Teachers Make Great Public Schools.  For more information on National Teacher Day, visit www.nea.org/teacherday.