Washington (CNN) – President Obama honored a Maryland high school English teacher Thursday at this year’s National Teacher of the Year ceremony at the White House.
Sean McComb, 30, teaches at the Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts in Baltimore. He said he chose the teaching profession because of the influence of one of his high school teachers.
“I became a teacher because I had incredible teachers who were able to shine a light of hope and possibility into a dark time in my life. Teaching is my calling to do that for others and an opportunity to spend my career living purposefully,” McComb said.
The ceremony, held in the East Room of the White House, honored top teachers from each of the 50 states and U.S. territories.
“What connects them is how they challenge their kids to reach their full potential; the creativity and passion that they bring to their work, instead of just going through the motions or teaching to the test. What separates them is the lasting impact that they have on their students’ lives,” Obama said.
McComb, who works with a college-readiness program called Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, targets students who need extra motivation to reach their full potential. In his program, the last two graduating classes have had a 98% college acceptance rate.
The President, who has long said that investing in education is a key element in the country getting ahead in the global economy, said that being a teacher is a 24/7 job and one of the most important professions.
“Some people they meet write messages of love and support. Some leave messages of negativity and doubt. It's a teachers job to erase the negative messages and fill those boards with caring words and inspire confidence and straighten values,” the President said. “Some of today's students may not even know what a chalkboard is anymore but they do know what a teacher gives them stays with them for a lifetime because teachers matter.”