ARIZONA NEWS

Phoenix teacher takes in sights as she takes message to White House

Apr 28, 2017, 8:13 AM
Encanto Elementary School teacher Michelle Doherty, the Arizona 2017 teacher of the year, said she ...
Encanto Elementary School teacher Michelle Doherty, the Arizona 2017 teacher of the year, said she tried to bring the concerns of her students and fellow teachers to Washington and the White House for teacher of the year gatherings. (Cronkite News Photo/Marisela Ramirez)
(Cronkite News Photo/Marisela Ramirez)

WASHINGTON – It’s a long way from the first grade of Encanto Elementary School in Phoenix to a meeting in Washington with some of the nation’s most powerful government officials, and teacher Michelle Doherty admitted Thursday that she was a little overwhelmed.

“My emotions have been up and down, up and down,” said Doherty, Arizona’s 2017 teacher of the year, a day after a trip to the White House.

“To see everything I’ve read about, teach to my kids, is actually here,” said Doherty, a first-time visitor to Washington.

The 23-year veteran of teaching, all at Encanto, took in the sights but her Washington visit wasn’t all vacation. She took part in a week of meetings by the Council of Chief State School Officers and made a point of relaying the voices and concerns of students and teachers in Arizona’s public schools.

“I’m excited to share their stories with those who are willing to listen,” Doherty said. “To make sure that their stories impact public education, teacher stories impact public education. It’s not just my voice, it’s everyone’s voice.”

And that opportunity presented itself late Wednesday afternoon at the White House.

Doherty and other state teachers of the year were invited to meet with President Donald Trump and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in the Oval Office.

While Doherty appreciated the five-minute speech Trump gave the teachers, she wished she had been given the opportunity to share her own words with the president.

“Support public education,” she said Thursday. “Listen to teachers, we have a strong voice.”

Doherty said she feels that public school teachers have been pushed out of the discussion over education policy and replaced by people who have “never been in the classrooms.” She stressed that “we cannot have others making the decisions” who “don’t know the impact of the policies they put into place.”

Despite not getting the chance to have a discussion in the Oval Office, Doherty said she was able to get to DeVos briefly.

“I invited her to Arizona already, I said we could go and have a discussion,” Doherty said. “I gave her my card and I said, ‘Please ask questions and I would love to sit down and talk.’”

Doherty worries that the Trump administration is straying away from assisting public education but remains “hopeful” after hearing that DeVos had appreciated speaking with the teachers.

But a focus on public education isn’t the only concern that she has. When Doherty told her first-grade class that she was going to visit Washington, one student asked, “Ms. Doherty, do you have your green papers?”

“They were worried because they thought once I met the president that I was going to be deported,” said Doherty, who is a U.S. citizen. “And that’s the mind of a 6- or 7-year-old.”

Doherty hopes that by sharing these stories with officials and with the other teachers she met in Washington, the discussion can eventually lead to a solution.

“Maybe there is one story out there that will resonate with that one person that can make a difference, that has a stronger voice than us, that is sitting at that table because we’re not,” Doherty said.

While Doherty said she plans on bringing stories back to her students of the important people she met in Washington, she also tried to remind them that they are important people, too.

“I asked for all of their autographs,” she said of her students, “because I said, ‘I’m the Arizona teacher of the year because of you.’”

Lifetime Windows & Doors

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(California Highway Patrol)...
KTAR.com

California Amber Alert kidnapping suspect could be headed to Arizona

A man accused of kidnapping his teenage daughter after killing a woman in California, triggering an Amber Alert, could be headed to Arizona, authorities said.
11 hours ago
(Facebook File Photo/Pinal County Sheriff’s Office)...
Associated Press

Woman, 6-year-old boy found dead in San Tan Valley home

A woman and young boy have been found dead in a San Tan Valley home, Pinal County Sheriff’s officials said.
11 hours ago
Arizona gubernatorial candidates, from left, Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake. (Getty Images Photos)...
Kevin Stone

Katie Hobbs, Kari Lake set to participate in town hall event next week

Katie Hobbs and Kari Lake won’t be debating anytime soon, but Arizona’s gubernatorial candidates are both scheduled to participate in a forum next week in Phoenix.
11 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Peixoto Coffee)...
KTAR.com

Chandler-based Peixoto Coffee expands to new mixed-use development in Gilbert

Family-owned Peixoto Coffee opened Tuesday morning in Gilbert’s Epicenter at Agritopia near Ray and Higley roads.
11 hours ago
(Facebook Photo/Rio Verde Fire District)...
Jim Cross

Prop 310 would create tax to help fund rural Arizona fire districts

Here are the pros and cons of Arizona's Prop 310, which would create a 0.1% statewide sales tax to help fund rural fire districts.
11 hours ago
...
Sponsored Content by Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.

Sponsored Articles

...
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.
...
Sanderson Ford

Don’t let rising fuel prices stop you from traveling Arizona this summer

There's no better time to get out on the open road and see what the beautiful state of Arizona has to offer. But if the cost of gas is putting a cloud over your summer vacation plans, let Sanderson Ford help with their wide-range selection of electric vehicles.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Phoenix teacher takes in sights as she takes message to White House