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EDUCATION REPORT – May 2, 2002: Teacher of the Year - 2002-05-01

This is the Special English Education Report.

A social studies teacher from the state of California has been honored as the National Teacher of the Year. President Bush presented the award to retired Army officer Chauncey Veatch at a ceremony at the White House last week. The president praised Mister Veatch for serving both the children and the nation well.

In accepting his award, Mister Veatch urged others to become teachers. He praised teaching as a way to become part of America’s future. He spoke in English and Spanish.

Mister Veatch teaches at Coachella Valley High School in Thermal, California. Most of his students have families who speak Spanish. Many of the families are farm workers who move from place to place to pick grapes. Mister Veatch is the son of a military family who also moved often. As a child he once attended five different schools in four states during a single school year.

Mister Veatch’s students have won competitions in science, spelling and mathematics. They also have earned scholarships -- money to attend universities. This year, half of his thirty-four students said they want to become teachers.

Mister Veatch is fifty-four years old. Before becoming a teacher, he served for twenty-two years as an Army officer. He was a medical administrator. After retiring from the Army in Nineteen-Ninety-Five, he became interested in teaching.

He asked the local school system if he could be a substitute teacher. He had never taught before. Still, the school system gave him a job teaching science and mathematics to middle-school students. Mister Veatch attended university classes at night, on weekends and during the summers. After three years, he completed the training required to become a permanent teacher.

Mister Veatch will spend the next year away from his classroom. He will spread the message about the importance of teaching.

American presidents have presented the Teacher of the Year Award to the country’s finest teachers every year since Nineteen-Fifty-Two. The goal is to honor teaching and show support for education. President Bush also has expressed special support for a program called Troops to Teachers. This program places retired members of the military in public school teaching jobs.

This VOA Special English Education Report was written by Jerilyn Watson.