Kathy Evert, an elementary school teacher in the Wisconsin Heights district, was one of a group of teachers from across the United States invited to participate in President Barack Obama’s celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Day at the White House. Evert, the co-president of AFT local 1917, represented the AFT at the May 3rd event honoring the national Teacher of the Year Jahana Hayes. “Jahana was effervescent,” said Evert. “She exuded intensity and enthusiasm for the profession. She had monumental things to overcome, and she overcame them, and the work she’s doing now as a teacher is so impressive. She’s teaching for social justice, which is a great example for all of us to reach toward.”
Kathy Evert (second from right), AFT local 1917 co-president, with fellow AFT members at the White House Teacher Appreciation Day celebration.
At the event, President Obama hailed teaching as a profession with incalculable influence on America’s children. Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Day, he said, allows us “to send a message to future generations of teachers, to talented young people all across the country, to understand: this is a dream job, that this is an area where you will have more influence potentially than any other profession that you go into.” President Obama then called on America’s teachers to raise expectations for student success: “There's magic in those kids,” he told the educators in attendance. “We just have to find it. We have to unleash it. We have to nurture it. We have to support it. We have to love them. And then we have to tell them precisely because we love you, you're going to work harder, and you're going to do better.” “The things President Obama said were heartening to hear,” said Evert. “We don’t do our students any favors to let them off. You have to move them forward, make them believe in themselves, and give them worthwhile things to reach for.”