President Obama Honors Teacher of the Year

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, left, and President Barack Obama listens as National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples, of Amarillo, Texas, speaks during an event to honor the teachers of the year, Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, left, and President Barack Obama listens as National Teacher of the Year Shanna Peeples, of Amarillo, Texas, speaks during an event to honor the teachers of the year, Wednesday, April 29, 2015, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

WASHINGTON (AP) — A high school English teacher from Amarillo, Texas, who works with refugees from war-torn countries was honored Tuesday at the White House as America’s Teacher of the Year.

President Barack Obama said Shanna Peeples of Palo Duro High School teaches students from Iraq, Somalia and other places of trauma and violence that have faced challenges that would overwhelm even adults.

“Shanna’s classroom has provided a safe haven,” Obama said. He credited her with driving up the number of Palo Duro students taking advanced placement English and quoted her as saying, “In a sense, I sell hope.”

The president said America is hungry for more teachers like Peeples. “They deserve our support and our appreciation and they also probably deserve higher salaries,” he said to applause from teacher finalists from every state gathered around him in the Rose Garden.

Peeples accepted the crystal apple given to a winner each year and said public school teachers offer students dreams “no matter their abilities, behaviors or financial situation.”

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