Biden welcomes Georgia’s teacher of the year to the White House

First lady Jill Biden hugs 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell as President Joe Biden applauds during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Cherie Goldman, Georgia's teacher of the year attended the event. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

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First lady Jill Biden hugs 2022 National Teacher of the Year Kurt Russell as President Joe Biden applauds during the 2022 National and State Teachers of the Year event in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, April 27, 2022. Cherie Goldman, Georgia's teacher of the year attended the event. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Cherie Goldman attended along with the nation’s other honored teachers

WASHINGTON — Georgia’s Teacher of the Year found out she won the title last summer during an event held virtually because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Representatives from Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools and Hesse K-8 School, where Cherie Goldman works as an English as a second language instructor, rushed to her home after her name was announced. They created as much fanfare as they could that day with just a few people gathered outside.

On Wednesday, Goldman finally got a chance to be celebrated in person. Alongside the nation’s other teachers of the year, she arrived at the White House to be feted by President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, a fellow educator.

“What makes your work so special is you: the love and the joy that you bring to it, the empathy and the understanding, the sheer power of your presence,” Jill Biden told the teachers. “You do this work because it’s a part of who you are, because you have a calling. And you’re not alone.”

The president spoke about how teachers can shape young lives, pointing out that nearly everyone can recall the name of educators who were instrumental in the people they had become. And he said he hoped to make the climate better for teachers during his time in office by boosting their pay and resisting efforts such as conservative-led campaigns to ban certain library books.

For Goldman, serving as teacher of the year meant taking a one-year sabbatical to allow her time to attend monthly meetings of the state Board of Education as a non-voting member. She’s also traveling the state to advocate for educators under her platform, “Believe in public education.”

“I think everyone realizes the indispensable role that we’ve been and foundational role that we play in our communities, and for our families and for our students,” she said. “And I’m just encouraging everyone to recognize that integral role that we play in Georgia and in our societies.”

One issue she has focused on is teacher burnout, an issue that the coronavirus pandemic exacerbated. She helped convene focus groups and is working with state Superintendent Richard Woods to produce a report and recommendations that will be shared with each school district.

After the formal ceremony concluded and on the way to a private reception at the White House, Goldman reflected on president and first lady’s remarks.

“It was so inspiring and reinvigorating just to know that we have such support from the highest levels in the land for what we’re doing for students in our country,” she said. “I think it just touched everybody very deeply and we just greatly appreciated the way they’ve opened up the White House to us and the time that they took to share their message and it was just incredibly powerful for everyone.”

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