Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Teacher of the Year Award
April 12, 2004

Good afternoon everyone. I am honored to be here.

It has been said, “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates, and the great teacher inspires.” It is clear to me today that we are in the presence of greatness.

To all of the educators we honor here this afternoon—congratulations. And thank you for inspiring our children.

Great teachers are the soul of an enlightened society. We entrust in you the most precious thing we know in life—our children.

Mona and I marvel at what Emily’s teachers have done for her.

This is an act of faith. And I believe we have that faith because each of us knows that in our own lives, we owe much of who we are and what we’ve achieved to great teachers. We can all name a great teacher who changed our lives. A teacher who inspired us.

When I was in third grade, I had another kind of teacher. She used me as an example a lot. I was an example of how not to swing a bat, how not to spell. I dreaded school. I was haunted by thoughts that I was a bad student who would never measure up.

Then I got to 6th grade, and Mr. Grefton. Mr. Grefton encouraged me. He assigned me to write a report. And Mr. Grefton told me the report was so good that he wanted me to present it to other classes too.

But what he really conveyed to me was that I had worth. That I could learn. That I could achieve high goals.

Each of us has our own Mr. Gefton. And today’s honored teachers will be remembered by their students in the same way. Some day one of your students may be standing where I am today. And he or she will mention you.

I guarantee you that thousands of former Garfield-Palouse High School students and Deary High School students have mentioned the name of Dennis Griner (2004 Teacher of the Year) over the years. Out there in the communities, jobs and adult lives into which they have settled, Mr. Griner’s former students remember him. They face life each day better prepared because of his influence. And they are much better drivers!

And so it is for every one of you. You change lives every day, and make the world a better place. One student at a time, one day at a time.

You are asked to do so much. And we don’t give you enough recognition or pay you enough.

We are committed to higher standards and high academic achievement for our kids. And it all begins with quality teachers. It begins with you.

And it continues with you. Henry Adams once observed that a teacher affects eternity, because you can never tell where a teacher’s influence stops. Your influence goes on and on. The people you’ve helped and taught pass those lessons along.

Teachers affect eternity. I believe that with all my heart. And so, with all my heart, I thank the teachers we honor today and the many more great teachers out there who quietly devote their lives to inspiring our children. Thank you, and congratulations to you!

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