The nation’s teacher of the year let her buttons do the talking Wednesday after she was presented the distinguished honor by President Trump at a White House ceremony.
Mandy Manning, a teacher at Joel E. Ferris High School in Spokane, Wash., wore several buttons that seemed to rebuke the president’s priorities as she accepted a crystal apple trophy. One was for the Peace Corps and one for the National Endowment for the Arts, one commemorated the Women’s March, and one read “Trans Equality Now.”
Trump’s 2019 budget called for gutting NEA funding and drastically slashing money for the Peace Corps. In March, the president signed an executive order banning the vast majority of transgender troops from serving in the U.S. military.
“Her incredible devotion has earned her the adoration — total adoration, actually — and respect of students and colleagues throughout her school district, community and the entire state,” Trump said of Manning during the ceremony.
For the last six years, Manning has taught English and math to immigrant students from places like Sudan, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Of that list, only Syria remains targeted by Trump’s latest travel ban.
“They’re forced to leave wherever they’re from, whether they’re immigrants or refugees,” Manning said in an April interview with “CBS This Morning.” “And so they come to the United States with this hope that it’s going to be somehow different, and I continue to hear that from the students. They’re like, ‘Well, this is my chance. This is where I have an opportunity to have dreams and actually achieve those dreams.'”
It’s unclear whether Trump read or was made aware of Manning’s buttons, and the Washington teacher did not speak following the presentation of the award. She was, however, able to hand Trump a stack of letters written by her students, as well as by members of her community, the Associated Press reported.
“I just had a very, very brief moment so I made it clear that the students that I teach … are dedicated and focused,” Manning told the Associated Press. “They make the United States the beautiful place that it is.”
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