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The North Bend Eagle

Bob Feurer in Washington, DC
NBC science teacher and 2011 Nebraska Teacher of the Year Bob Feurer stands on the deck outside the office of edcation council in Washington, D.C.

Mr. Feurer goes to Wahsington

Published 5/18/11

Bob Feurer spent the first week in May in Washington, D.C. to recognize the formal announcement of the National Teacher of the Year from Maryland, Michelle Shearer in a White House ceremony Tuesday. He represented Nebraska as the 2011 Teacher of the Year and has had a number of opportunities to represent Nebraska, and North Bend, since being named such last fall.

Feurer and the other teachers spent Monday at the Smithsonian Institution in eight of the different museums learning and teaching. Feurer participated in the sectional “Written in Bone: Forensic Files of the 17th-Century Chesapeake” in the Natural History Museum where forensics was used to tell the life and death story of some of the earliest European settlers to the continent. Teachers shared their learning experiences in each of the eight museums and were then bussed to a reception at the Naval Observatory, the home of the vice president and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, who hosted a reception pool side at the residence.

Monday evening Feurer and a small group rode on the Metro, the D.C. subway system, getting to Chinatown for dinner. They were staying at the Fairfax Hotel, near DuPont Circle, located on embassy row, home to many of the embassies of various countries.

The excitement was palpable at Tuesday morning’s breakfast; it was White House day! The national teacher of the year was going to be announced by President Barak Obaman in the Rose Garden of the White House. Security clearance documentation had begun two weeks earlier and Teachers of the Year and designated guests were screened three times prior to entering the White House itself.

Each Teacher of the Year was able to pose briefly with the President in the Oval Office prior to being announced as their respective state’s teacher of the year as they entered the Rose Garden area.

President Obama, flanked by Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, announced Michelle Scheare of Maryland as the 61st National Teacher of the Year. Schearer is an AP Chemistry Teacher at Urbana High School in Maryland. President Obama noted that the Hawaii Teacher of the Year teaches in the same elementary school he attended as a child. Schearer delivered a heartfelt message that all teachers need to see the faces of their students as they prepare to teach each days lesson and noted the challenges facing education today.

Teachers were hosted at a buffet luncheon that evening the hotel.

Wednesday was spent at SMARTboard training in the DC area office. Each of the state ToYs received a $17,000 SMARTboard, accessories and training for each of their respective schools. Training by SMART staff and teachers already using their boards was conducted and then teachers were able to exchange teaching ideas by subject area.

Wednesday night was a black tie formal banquet and celebration for the newly named National Teacher of the Year. Addresses from the executive director of the Council of Chief State School Officers Gene Wilhoit, chief of staff of the Department of Education Joanne Weiss, presidents of the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association as well as Michelle Shearer herself. Each of the state teachers of the year were recognized during the banquet as well.

Thursday began with a press conference announcement of the new “Teacher Leadership Standards” followed by a panel discussion and questions from a gallery of state ToYs and education professionals. Immediately following the press conference, the teachers were bussed to the Federal Department of Education for round table discussions with senior staff members. Teacher effectiveness, teacher recruitment and retention, and family education were amongst the eight topics discussed in the groups.

EducationCounsel is an innovative law, policy, strategy, and advocacy organization committed to strengthening education systems, closing achievement gaps, and expanding access to educational opportunities. The firm collaborates with education leaders from across the country, including state and local leaders, higher education officials, associations, and pioneering private and public entities to improve educational outcomes for all students. The Counsel hosted a reception at the law office of Richard Riley, former Secretary of Education who shared some thoughts about his tenure in those years.

The whirlwind week ended that evening with a twilight tour of the monuments of D.C. A group photo in front of the Capitol Building was followed by stops at the Lincoln Memorial and Air Force Monument as well as drive-bys of the Jefferson, WW II, Iwo Jima and other monuments.

The week and program is sponsored by Target, People to People, the University of Phoenix and ING Corporations while some individual states provide support for teacher travel and lodging expenses. Teachers, in turn, serve as advocates for education in their individual states during the year of their award.

Bob Feurer shares this story of his week in Washington D.C. He teaches Science 7, Biology II, Anatomy/Physiology, Global Science at North Bend Central. He is also Curator, Franklin-Cotterell Greens Arboretum, a Nebraska Statewide Arboretum Affiliate site. Bob can be reached at

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