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Dr. Jill Biden: Thank You Mrs. Helwig

Summary: 
May 3rd is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Dr. Jill Biden reflects on how her high school composition teacher shaped her path to becoming a teacher.

Ed. Note: May 3rd is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Join Dr. Biden and thank a teacher today.

The best teachers are the ones whose lessons stay with you long after you leave their class. For me, that teacher was Mrs. Helwig, my composition teacher in high school.

At first, all of us were intimidated by her. Up there at the front of the room, she just had so much presence. As much as she was a force in the classroom, she had even more effect on me through what she demanded of our writing. Every paper would be covered in notes and comments, and we would have to go back and correct what we’d done wrong, or improve on things we could do better. It was hard work, but eventually I came to love Mrs. Helwig for having the confidence in me to demand so much. For her to take the time to review my work with such close detail told me, and all of my classmates, that she was invested in us.

When I became a teacher, I tried to bring some of Mrs. Helwig into the classroom with me. I want each of my students to know that I care about them and what they do as much as Mrs. Helwig cared about me. For thirty years, I’ve had the privilege of working with students who inspire me --  students who work hard to make it to class, in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their families. I hope I’ve been able to pass on to them the confidence and self-esteem that teachers like Mrs. Helwig helped build in me.

Dr. Biden With Teachers of the Year

Dr. Jill Biden welcomes national Teachers of the Year to the Vice President's residence in Washington, D.C. May 2, 2011. (by Joshua Hoover, U.S. Department of Education)

Just yesterday, I had the honor of welcoming the 2011 Teachers of the Year to the Vice President’s Residence.  This gathering is always one of my favorite events of the year.  The teachers always share stories about how they try to inspire their students, and in turn – how their students inspire them.

May 3 is National Teacher Appreciation Day. I hope you’ll join me in remembering the great teachers you’ve had in your life. Our young people are our future, and it is teachers who will make that future bright.