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OR Teacher of the Year Paints the "Big Picture"

July 14, 2008

Prineville, OR - An Oregon teacher has been named the national "Teacher of the Year." Michael Geisen teaches seventh grade science in at Crook County Middle School, Prineville, where he's known for his creativity and enthusiasm. But right now he's on the road, sharing his passion and insights on education with parents, policymakers and other educators across the country about how he gets them and students to look at the "big picture."

Speaking out about education has been Geisen's mission since he was honored by President Bush in a Rose Garden ceremony earlier this year. He says the key to preparing kids for life is going beyond important basics like math, reading and writing to give students other skills they'll need for life in the 21st century.

"Things like collaboration and creativity and innovation and empathy for others and the ability to think critically about big-picture issues and synthesize different ideas."

He says some of these things often are missing from the classroom because of the focus on testing and meeting a narrow set of standards.

"When students know that it's not just some writer of some worksheet out there that wants them to do something, but that it's local and applicable to their lives, they start to get interested. And when students are interested, they start to ask real questions. And when they ask questions, they're on their way to becoming great scientists and learners."

While teachers can have a big effect on a young person's life, Geisen stresses that education really starts at home with parents and family. He says parents can build on what their children learn in school by "finding ways to make what the students are learning in the schoolday come alive at home, or when they're on vacation, or on a hike or wherever."

The National Teacher of the Year Program, sponsored by the ING Foundation, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). Information about the award and CCSSO is available at www.ccsso.org.

Eric Mack, Public News Service - OR