Mandy Manning’s message is all about inclusion.
And compassion. And bravery.
The Spokane-area high-school teacher was named the 2018 National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers. She took her messages to the White House and President Trump this past May and on Monday, Oct. 15, Manning will bring all of that and more to South Whidbey High School. The free, public event is from 7-8:30 p.m. and sponsored by the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation.
Manning teaches English at the Newcomer Center to refugee and immigrant students. She notes on the center’s web page, “Your first days in America and in school may be confusing and a little scary.”
“This year, I hope to engage the nation in a conversation about how we can encourage students to experience things outside of their understanding,” Manning says. “In the current political climate, anti-immigrant and anti-refugee rhetoric is rampant. I must help them understand current events, know their rights and provide a safe and welcoming environment.”
While accepting her award from President Trump, Manning wore several pins and badges supporting inclusion. After the ceremony, Manning told the Associated Press that she used a private moment with the president to hand him letters written by her students in the hope that he would read them and visit the school.
Manning said the goal of the letters was to offer insight into the lives and views of refugee and immigrant students.
“Like American students, most of what my students know about the other cultures comes from television and the Internet,” Manning said. “This leads to misunderstandings and misinformation on all sides. It’s my job to help newcomers learn about and experience real life in the U.S.
“Let’s teach (students) to be brave when confronted with uncertainty. Brave when they fail. Brave in meeting new people. Brave in seeking opportunities to experience things outside of their understanding.”
Manning has received the National Education Association Foundation’s California Casualty Award for Teaching Excellence in 2017 and the Kim Plemons Leadership Award from the Spokane Education Association in 2015.