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Obama surprises teachers on video call for Teacher Appreciation Week

Obama surprises teachers on video call for Teacher Appreciation Week
© Screenshot/Obama Foundation

Former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaHarris: 'Of course I will' take COVID-19 vaccine Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter encourage people to take COVID-19 vaccine George Clooney says Amal beat him and Obama in a free throw contest MORE surprised Chicago teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week, jumping into a video call to thank them for their hard work, especially during the coronavirus pandemic. 

"There’s no limit to the devotion I’ve seen in teachers like these," Obama wrote sharing the video. "Their dedication shapes the best parts of who we become. I couldn’t be more thankful for their work, especially as they shift lessons online to keep students on track during this crisis."

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Obama, a longtime Chicago resident, surprised three Chicago Public Schools teachers with a thank you. The teachers included, Jalayne Brewton, a middle school teacher at Parkside Academy; Daniel Michmerhuizen, a civics and U.S. history teacher at Benito Juarez High School; and Katie Owens, a second-grade teacher at Joseph Kellman Elementary. 

"I'm almost speechless," Michmerhuizen said as the call started.

"I'm beyond excited, I think I'm trembling now!" Owens said upon realizing the caller was Obama. At the end of the call, Obama and Owens bonded over watching the Michael Jordan-Chicago Bulls documentary "The Last Dance." 

The thanks from Obama comes as teachers face new obstacles helping their students learn remotely during the pandemic. Most schools across the nation remain closed, and some teachers have struggled to make sure students remain engaged. Others have had to figure out how to help students in low-income areas where they may not have access to the internet services and electronics needed to learn virtually. 

While some states are beginning to reopen, many say their schools won't reopen until the fall.