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Barack Obama takes time to #ThankATeacher ahead of Teacher Appreciation Week

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A new pupil “in a new school, feeling a little out of place, hoping to fit in like anyone else” – it’s a story that many people have experienced themselves, that many teachers see play out year after year.

But this particular story, though commonplace in origin, has a rather extraordinary ending: the pupil in question went on to become the 44th president of the United States.

Barack Obama told his tale as part of a tribute to his favourite teacher, Mabel Hefty, ahead of Teacher Appreciation Week, which takes place in the US between 4 and 8 May.

“The first time she called on me, I wished she hadn't. In fact, I wished I were just about anywhere else but at that desk, in that room of children staring at me,” Mr Obama writes.

“But over the course of that year, Ms Hefty taught me that I had something to say – not in spite of my differences, but because of them. She made every single student in that class feel special.”

However, while grateful to Ms Hefty, who taught Mr Obama as a fifth-grade student in Hawaii, he noted that her talents were shared by teachers across the country – and the world.

“This is the simple and undeniable power of a good teacher. This is a story that every single kid in this country, regardless of background or station in life, should be able to tell. Sharing stories like these helps underline the vital importance of fighting for that reality.”

The president called on others to share which teacher helped shape their education by using the hashtag #ThankATeacher. If you’d like to join in, tweet @tes with a picture of you holding up a piece of paper with the name of the teacher you’d like to thank, along with the reason you’d like to thank them. The best will appear in a blog over the next week, and all the pictures will be curated on TES’ Pinterest page

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