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Obama honors Iowa woman as year's top teacher

President Barack Obama honors 35-year-old Johnson, Iowa, High School teacher Sarah Brown Wessling as the 2010 National Teacher of the Year, during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington Thursday, April 29, 2010. President Barack Obama honors 35-year-old Johnson, Iowa, High School teacher Sarah Brown Wessling as the 2010 National Teacher of the Year, during an event in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington Thursday, April 29, 2010. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
By Erica Werner
Associated Press Writer / April 29, 2010

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WASHINGTON—A high school English teacher from Iowa who incorporates everything from singing to Facebook in her lessons has been recognized by President Barack Obama as the nation's top teacher.

Obama introduced Sarah Brown Wessling on Thursday in a ceremony in the Rose Garden.

"Her students don't just write five-paragraph essays, but they write songs, public service announcements, film story boards, even grant proposals for their own not-for-profit organizations," the president said, adding that one of Wessling's students reported that learning in her classroom was never boring.

"I'm not sure I could have said that when I was in school," said Obama.

Wessling teaches 10th- through 12th-graders at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, where she's worked for a decade.

She said she was accepting the annual honor on behalf of her students and other teachers. All have a "collective responsibility to create hope and opportunity for every child in this country," Wessling said.

Obama used the ceremony to speak about the importance of education to a strong democracy, and also called on parents to do their part to support students at home.

He told Wessling and teachers representing other states that at a time of state budget shortfalls, "I'm committed to doing every single thing that I can do to support your work."

Wessling, who accepted a trophy in the form of a glass apple from the president, said later that she and her family had met with Obama in the Oval Office. She said her son was about ready to lose his first tooth and Obama wiggled it.

The Council of Chief State School Officers selects the recipient of the annual honor and cited Wessling's passion and innovative approaches, including incorporating Facebook in her classes.