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National Teacher of the Year Addresses NEA Representative Assembly

Oregon science teacher inspires fellow educators to collaborate on solutions

WASHINGTON - July 06, 2008 -

Before a crowd of nearly 10,000 fellow educators, NEA member Michael Geisen, the 2008 National Teacher of the Year, urged educators to not only teach the nation's students, but to also educate policymakers, parents, and the public about what takes place every day in public schools and classrooms.

Geisen, a seventh-grade science teacher at Crook County Middle School in Prineville, Ore., is known for his creativity and innovative teaching techniques in getting his students motivated about science. Recognizing that a student is more than a test score, Geisen was met with roaring applause when discussing the need for individual teaching and assessment techniques, and not a one-size-fits-all approach to learning.

"Education is not something that you can legislate from the top down. It has to come from the roots," said Geisen. "We all need to work together to make students feel welcome. We need to throw open the doors of our classrooms and be transparent."

Geisen, a Seattle native and graduate of the University of Washington, was honored earlier this year by President George W. Bush in a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House. Known for making science fun for his students, Geisen incorporates songs, games, art and humor into his teaching repertoire. Geisen will serve for one year as a full-time national and international spokesperson for education.

"As schools are struggling to attract and retain science teachers, the National Education Association is proud to have one of its over 3.2 million members acknowledged for the commitment and dedication that the challenging profession demands," said NEA President Reg Weaver. "Michael's techniques are great examples of the teachable moments that are critical to a student’s educational experience—practices that can’t be measured by just filling in a bubble on a high-stakes standardized test."

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. Each year during the NEA's Annual Meeting and Representative Assembly, the National Teacher of the Year is invited to address the delegation.

"We need to build bridges of communication to policymakers and the public, not burn them," said Geisen. "We need to be bold, but not brash. We need to be constructive, not critical. We need to be teachers."

High resolution photos are available by contacting NEA Public Relations at (202) 822-7823 or

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The National Education Association is the nation's largest professional 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: Staci Maiers (202) 822-7823