President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden Honor 2022 Teacher of the Year in White House Ceremony

The Bidens hosted Ohio high school teacher Kurt Russell and other educators at the White House on Wednesday to celebrate teachers of the year from states across the country

US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden applaud Kurt Russell
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President Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden celebrated teachers from across the country in a special ceremony ahead of Teacher Appreciation Week.

The Bidens hosted Kurt Russell, who was named the 2022 National Teacher of the Year, and other educators at the White House on Wednesday to celebrate teachers of the year from states across the country.

Russell, an educator at Oberlin High School in Ohio, is known for teaching about race, gender and oppression in his classes and is the faculty adviser for the school's Black Student Union, according to CNN and

During his remarks, Russell highlighted the importance of representation within a teacher's coursework and its connection to a healthy education.

"Students must see themselves in the classroom and the curriculum in order to empower and engage," he said, per CNN. "That's why I created courses that allow students to feel value. Courses that deal with women's rights, gay rights and also a survey of Black history. It's important that my students see themselves as I see them — with unlimited potential and full of gifts."

Kurt Russell
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"I am truly blessed to be a part of a profession that transforms and legitimizes student voices and plants the groundwork for a more culturally responsive education," Russell added.

Dr. Biden, 70 — a longtime educator herself — was tasked with introducing Russell as the National Teacher of the Year at Wednesday's event. Beforehand, the First Lady spoke to the attending teachers about the general impact they have in the classroom, according to the White House.

"What makes your work so special is you: the love and the joy that you bring to it, the empathy and the understanding, the sheer power of your presence," the long-time educator said. "You do this work because it's a part of who you are, because you have a calling. And you're not alone."

Kurt Russell and Jill Biden
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After Russell's remarks, President Biden lauded the veteran educator for his efforts to educate children in the same school district he grew up attending. "I understand you wanted to go back home to be a teacher because your teachers inspired you," Biden said, per the White House. "I'll bet every one of you can name one or two teachers who fundamentally impacted your lives.

He continued, "I think you've paid it forward many times over, old buddy, and — transforming the lives of your students in Oberlin, Ohio, helping students see themselves in you. That's what happens, I think. And helping all your students not only learn history, but see — see what they — that they have a role in shaping history — I mean in a literal sense."

Russell, who President Biden said has been teaching for 25 years, was named National Teacher of the Year the same month as Republican lawmakers in his home state introduced a bill similar to the "Don't Say Gay" law in Florida that includes a ban on the instruction of critical race theory.

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Joe Biden
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In an interview with CBS Mornings earlier this month, Russell said he tries to "make sure that my students have the most opportunity to learn."

"And the way I do that is through engagement — by allowing my students to see themselves in the curriculum, and by seeing themselves in the curriculum, students are growing," he told the outlet.

Russell later said he has a "clear" message regarding diversity in schools: "To provide a diverse education opportunity for all students" as well as "faculty and staff."

Teacher Appreciation Week begins May 2.

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