Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Honored at White House Teacher of the Year Ceremony

WASHINGTON – Peace Corps Director Jody Olsen delivered remarks at the White House yesterday during events honoring 2018 National Teacher of the Year Mandy Manning, a returned Peace Corps volunteer from Spokane, Wash.

“While Peace Corps volunteers work on projects in many different sectors—from health to community economic development—education is our largest program area,” said Olsen, who taught for eight years at the University of Maryland, Baltimore. “During her two years of Peace Corps service, Mandy gained a global perspective that informs her work today. She likes to joke that she thought her teaching career would end after her Peace Corps service. My goodness, aren’t we all glad she was wrong?”

Manning worked in classrooms as a Peace Corps volunteer in Armenia after earning her bachelor’s degree in media and film from Eastern Washington University in Cheney, Wash. She now teaches English and math at Ferris High School’s Newcomer Center, which provides instruction for immigrant and refugee students.

Prior to a ceremony with President Donald J. Trump, Manning met with Director Olsen, Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos during a listening session with educators from around the country.

With her family and fellow teachers in the audience, Manning discussed her efforts to see that students are able to connect with one another from a young age, building a culture of respect and civility in the classroom, school, and community.

“You can’t get to academics if you don’t make connections,” said Manning. “We can all agree that content is important, but connections are the most important thing. Without them, they can’t learn to have civil discourse and empathy for one another.”

The National Teacher of the Year program is presented by the Council of Chief State School Officers, a nonprofit organization that brings together education leaders from across the nation. Winners of the award spend a year traveling nationally and internationally as advocates for the teaching profession.

Manning, who is frequently the first American teacher for her students when they arrive in the United States, said that she will dedicate the next year to sharing her students’ stories and insights to show them that “they are wanted, they are loved, they are enough, and they matter.”

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

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About the Peace Corps: The Peace Corps sends Americans with a passion for service abroad on behalf of the United States to work with communities and create lasting change. Volunteers develop sustainable solutions to address challenges in education, health, community economic development, agriculture, environment and youth development. Through their Peace Corps experience, volunteers gain a unique cultural understanding and a life-long commitment to service that positions them to succeed in today's global economy. Since President John F. Kennedy established the Peace Corps in 1961, more than 230,000 Americans of all ages have served in 141 countries worldwide.

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