My husband has recently learned that I will apply for anything that interests me. My attitude seems to be, why not? What can it hurt? He learned this because a couple of weeks ago I applied to attend a White House Teacher Appreciation Social. It crossed my radar at 5:30 one morning and I thought, why not? I don’t remember exactly what the application entailed, but it was pretty short. I believe it requested our various social media links and there were two questions. Based on my memories (and some discussion today) the questions were ‘What makes you unique as a teacher?’ and ‘Why do you want to attend this event?’ As I spent a while at 5:30 in the morning I kept thinking, “Why am I wasting my time on this? There is no way I will get to go.”
I was wrong. The email arrived last week informing me that I had been accepted to attend. I was in shock. I’m still in shock. There were 21 of us at the event today – amazing teachers from all over: New Hampshire, Massachusetts, South Carolina, Georgia, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Florida, Wisconsin, and more. I felt a bit like an impostor as I showed up after dropping my girls off at school and stopping for gas. These folks drove many hours or flew across the country. I also spent the day wondering what on earth I had done to deserve to be there. I think there might have been a lot of luck!
I have many, many, many thoughts about today, but for the moment, I don’t have it in me. Instead, I’ll share a few photos and keep processing the day to share soon.
Once we got through security we were ushered out to the South Lawn. As we stood there among a crowd of White House staffers and high schoolers on a field trip, Marine One landed in front of us, Barack Obama walked across the lawn, waved, and climbed aboard. We watched as he waved through the window on the first leg of his journey to Arkansas to visit the site of the recent tornado. It was amazing and completely unexpected.
Most of our time was spent in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (I took more selfies today than I have taken in my entire life. I am not ashamed of that!)
In the EEOB we were in a conference room that is a part of the Vice President’s suite (for lack of a better description – all of his staffers are in offices around there). The room contained a ceremonial desk (it has been used in the past but is now used only ceremonially). Just down the hall was Dr. Jill Biden’s office. She took a picture with each one of us there and then joined us for lunch and a group picture. I have a major crush on her now.
We also met with Arne Duncan and several other administration officials who are involved in various education initiatives. They shared with us about these initiatives and policies and asked us about ideas for how to continue or publicize or improve. They also took questions from us. It was a completely unreal day.
Update: The White House blog used two of my tweets in their post about our day!