Joining Forces: "Operation Educate the Educators" Celebration

Uploaded by whitehouse on 03.10.2012

Felicity Horan: Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden,
is a mother and grandmother, a life-long educator,
a proud Blue Star Mom, an active member of her community.
As Second Lady, Dr. Biden works to bring attention to sacrifices
made by military families.
Dr. Biden has dedicated herself to shining a light on military
families' strength and courage, as well as the challenges
that they face.
She travels regularly to military bases in both the
United States and abroad to visit with service members and
their families.
Ladies and gentlemen, it is my great honor and sincere
privilege to introduce to you Dr. Jill Biden.
Dr. Jill Biden: Thank you; and I'm also Army strong.
Audience Member: Hoah!
Dr. Jill Biden: Good afternoon!
It's great to see all of you here today.
You know, this is such an exciting day for me.
Thank you, Felicity, you did such a beautiful job.
You really did.
You know, thank you for sharing your story about what it's like
to be a military child and I'm so glad that you brought Abigail
with you, too.
Thank you, Abigail.
Dean Ginsberg, thank you for hosting us today.
And I also want to thank General Odierno and his wife Linda for
your leadership and your friendship.
As well as Patty Shinseki who has been a great friend and a
partner along with everybody at the military child
education coalition.
And thank you, too, Sharon, and everyone at the American
Association of Colleges for Teacher Education for all of
their hard work to make this happen.
And I'd also like to personally thank Kirsten White who worked
so hard to pull this all together.
Thank you, Kirsten.
I want to give a special welcome to the third graders who are
here from Fort Belvoir Elementary school.
(cheers and applause)
Fort Belvoir was one of the first schools I visited as we
were going around the country hearing firsthand from military
families and their experiences.
And you really have been on your best behavior.
I'm really proud of you.
Most of all, thank you to all of the military families here today
and the teachers colleges who have signed on to Operation
Educate the Educators.
Many of you know me as Second Lady.
And some of you, I guess, know by now I'm a military mom.
But I'm also a teacher.
And I continue to teach at a community college not too
far from here.
In fact, I was in a classroom all day yesterday and I'll be
there tomorrow all day as well.
So I feel right at home being on a college campus.
I love being in the classroom and seeing the difference that I
hope to make in the lives of my students.
That's why this effort holds such a special place
in my heart.
One of the best parts of my role as Second Lady is spending time
with so many veterans and military families.
As I travel to bases across the country and the world,
I'm always inspired by the strength and the resilience of
our military families.
But they have told me about the many challenges they face:
The long deployments; the frequent moves;
and the stress of having someone in harm's way.
When I ask them about their priorities,
almost everyone mentions education.
I've heard over and over from military families how important
it is that a school environment be supportive for
military children.
And as was mentioned by the General,
there are military children in every school district in
this country.
And there are more than 1.3 million children/military
connected students whose parents are active duty,
they're national guard and reserves, and they're veterans.
So as was mentioned before, 80% of military kids are in/will
attend public schools.
On average, as Felicity told you,
military children attend six to nine different school systems.
It's really kind of unimaginable for those of us who never moved
as children.
Through each transition, they've had to leave their friends,
their sports teams, their ballet classes,
and adjust to new schools.
We all want to support these children whose parents are doing
so much for our country.
And I've met teachers across the country who are meeting these
challenges in creative and heartwarming ways.
Earlier this year, I met a principal from San Diego who has
worked with her staff to try and create transition rooms to offer
military families kind of a one-stop shop of resources.
I've also met teachers in Illinois who used writing and
art therapy to help National Guard kids with their deployed
parents with they felt fear and anxiety.
And I met a teacher in Georgia who arranges parent-teacher
conferences by Skype, which I thought was such a great idea,
so that a parent deployed in Afghanistan can participate in
his or her child's education.
These are all ways to help families stay connected during a
separation and can help allow children to show their pride in
being a military child.
And we certainly saw that with Felicity and Abigail.
When my son Beau was deployed to Iraq for a year,
my granddaughter Natalie's teacher hung a picture of Beau's
unit at the school door so that when all of the children walked
in each and every day they saw that our son Beau,
Natalie's dad, was fighting for his country.
You know, that meant much to our family just as every simple act
does for all military families.
But I've also heard some heartbreaking stories about
military children's challenges.
Last year I told one of these stories to members of the
American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and to the
Military Child Education Coalition.
In 2010, when I was visiting troops in Iraq for the 4th of
July, a general told me a story that I'll never forget.
During a concert at his six-year-old daughter's school,
one of her classmates burst in to tears when they played the
"Ave Maria."
She told her teacher that they had played that song at her
daddy's funeral.
He was killed in Iraq.
That story is heartbreaking for all of us and it is the story
that inspired all of you.
You formed Operation Educate the Educators and set the goal of
having 100 colleges of education sign on to the set of guiding
principles to raise awareness about military children on
your campuses.
I'm so pleased we can celebrate that we have surpassed that goal
moving us closer to the day when all teachers will better
understand military children and the skills they need to
support them.
Thank you for what you have done and what you continue to do to
make a difference in the lives of so many students now and for
years to come.
Thank you, so much.