A message from Karen Keeler Hannahoe - Nationally Certified in 2011

By a grand strike of luck, I was selected to participate in a forum on “Effective Teaching” at the White House on Wednesday, December 7th, 2011.  I was 1 of 100 teachers chosen from a pool of over 6,000 Nationally Certified teachers in 2011.  Upon arrival I discovered I was the only music representative from the nation and the only Colorado resident.  The day’s events began with a ceremony at the White House in which many officials and teachers spoke including Melody Barnes, Domestic Council Policy Director and Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education.  The ceremony was both a celebration for our recent National Certification as well as a discussion on the future of education in America.

Following the White House visit (sorry, I didn’t get to meet President Obama) we were bused to the Department of Education.  There we were given a draft of a new national vision of the education field.  We were asked to give our initial feedback before breaking into small roundtable discussion groups on particular sections.  I selected Career Pathways as my small group discussion and had the opportunity to share ideas with colleagues and Brad Jupp, a top education policy official, formerly from the Denver area.

An evening reception was held by the National Board for Professional Teachers in which I was able to engage in great informal discussions with colleagues and the top officials of the National Board organization.  The entire day was filled with thought-provoking ideas and an incredible amount of energy.

The entire experience was quite memorable and a few themes still resonate with me.  First of all, teaching is an incredibly noble profession.  What one great teacher accomplishes in a day is just short of a miracle.  Now imagine all of the great teachers in this country – we have the power to improve the overall well-being of our country.  I am honored to be part of such a profession.

We all know it is easy to get bogged down with the daily routine of our rigorous schedules.  It is important to take a step back every once in awhile and look at the bigger picture.  We need to be involved in the discussions on what our profession will look like in the future.  We can't just leave this to the policy-makers in our country.  Our voice must be heard.

Finally, it takes a village to raise a teacher.  To everyone who has impacted my upbringing – my own parents, teachers, colleagues, parents in our community, and students – thank you.  I wouldn’t have had these opportunities without your positive influences in my life.  Through the challenges and successes you have provided I continue to grow.   I stand upon your shoulders every day and I am very grateful.  We should all take a moment to thank those who got us where we are today.