Mitchell teacher meets presidentEducator jokes with Obama about ‘bunny ears’ in photo.
By: Chris Huber, The Daily Republic
South Dakota Teacher of the Year Pat Moller, of Mitchell, met President Barack Obama on Tuesday at the White House along with the Teachers of the Year from other states for a reception and teacher appreciation event.
“You don’t really plan to be shaking hands with the president when you start your career,” said Moller, who teaches math at Mitchell Middle School. “It’s amazing.”
Moller spoke with The Daily Republic by phone from inside the White House after the program and said each teacher had around 30 seconds to talk with the president.
“It was pretty short but very humbling,” Moller said. “He said he liked to hear that I taught math and that we need more math teachers.
“Then I asked him if he remembered the Corn Palace, and he did.”
Obama delivered a campaign speech in front of the Corn Palace before the South Dakota primary election in 2008.
Moller was told he’ll be emailed a picture of himself with the president. In a photo captured by The Associated Press during the event, Obama is seen pointing directly at a laughing Moller. The Mitchell teacher said the president warned him against using “bunny ears” during the group photo of Obama and the teachers, and Moller, who was standing directly behind the president, deadpanned “don’t be too sure.”
Moller was named the Mitchell School District’s Teacher of the Year last May and South Dakota’s Teacher of the Year in October.
“I know I am probably not the best teacher in South Dakota, but I think I demonstrate the qualities we look for in good teachers,” he said. “The fact that I am here today is just really a great testament to the quality education we give in South Dakota.”
After meeting the president, Moller said each teacher was announced by state before the president gave a speech thanking them for their hard work and dedication.
National Teacher of the Year winner Rebecca Mieliwocki, a middle school teacher from Burbank Calif., also gave a speech. Mieliwocki said of the honor, “I am not the best teacher in America. There isn’t just one.”
AP Photo President Barack Obama jokes with South Dakota Teacher of the Year Pat Moller on Tuesday at the White House. The president told Moller not to give him “bunny ears” during the group picture they were about to take.
President Barack Obama poses with 2012 National Teacher of the Year award winner Rebecca Mieliwocki and other state Teachers of the Year during a ceremony Tuesday in the East Room at the White House in Washington. Mitchell Middle School math teacher and South Dakota Teacher of the Year Pat Moller can be seen in the top row directly above the president.