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NEA member named 2009 National Teacher of the Year

Connecticut special education teacher Anthony Mullen to be honored at White House ceremony

WASHINGTON - April 28, 2009 -

NEA member and former police officer Anthony Mullen will today be named the 59th National Teacher of the Year by President Barack Obama at a White House ceremony.  Mullen, a special education teacher at the ARCH School, an alternative education branch of Greenwich High School in Greenwich, Conn., was chosen for this prestigious title because of his innovative approach, community focus and teamwork. 

He will serve for one year as a full-time national and international spokesperson for education beginning June 1, 2009.

“Anthony’s passion, dedication and lifetime commitment to transforming the lives of students is exemplary and commendable,” said NEA President Dennis Van Roekel.  “His ability to instill a love of learning among his students and motivate them to reach for the stars is an inspiration to all teachers nationwide.  On behalf of NEA and its 3.2 million members, I congratulate him on being named the nation’s top teacher.”

According to Mullen, providing passion, perseverance and professionalism are the keys to his success as an educator.  In addition, his ability to connect with his students—particularly those with behavioral and emotional disabilities—and his unique one-on-one approach result in a classroom where mutual respect and learning thrive and flourish. 

Mullen, a former New York City police officer, always dreamed of teaching and mentoring teenagers who “needed a second chance.”  In 2001, Mullen received his master’s degree in elementary education and special education and retired from the Police Department. He actively sought teaching positions that included the job description “working with students with severe or emotional problems.”  Mullen said, “I knew that my biography and work experience would provide me the empathy and skills necessary to help such young people.”

The National Teacher of the Year program is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers and is sponsored by the ING Foundation. The program focuses public attention on teaching excellence and is the oldest and most prestigious award program for teachers. 

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The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing 3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers.

CONTACT: Christiana Campos (202) 822-7823,