Dekalb County, GA
President Barack Obama’s visit to Decatur yesterday may not inspire his opponents in Congress to go right out and fund his early learning proposals, but it was the inspiration of a lifetime for a couple of people who were in the auditorium to hear him speak.
Mary McMahon is teacher of the year at College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center. It was her class President Obama visited as he highlighted his plan for universal pre-K.
“Behind every child who is doing great, there’s a great teacher,” Obama said, referring to McMahon.
But McMahon, an early education intervention specialist at College Heights, said the president was a great pupil.
“He came in and said, ‘How ya doin’ guys?’ And the kids just interacted with him!” she exclaimed. When it came time for the president to flesh out his universal pre-K proposal to hundreds of people and an auditorium full of local and national media, McMahon was tapped to introduce the commander in chief.
“What a day,” she told the crowd, visibly shaky. “Obviously, this is huge.” Then her voice dropped to a conspiratorial whisper. “I just talked to the president back there!” The crowd cracked up and McMahon was at ease.
The president left to fight an uphill battle for funding his early learning initiative in Congress. Mary McMahon stayed behind with an autograph – a memento from an afternoon with the president that she will never forget.
Similarly affected was a young boy wearing a sharp suit, his hair picture-perfect, his grammar, diction and posture as sharp as that of any adult in the room.
“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing,” observed Juan Acosta, 11. The winner of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award at Fifth Avenue Elementary School in Decatur, Juan earned an invitation to hear the president speak. It left a big impression on the little man.
“Well, I learned to take my education more seriously and don’t goof around in class,” he said matter-of-factly. “I hope it inspires other people to take it seriously, too.”