President Obama Reflects on His 5th Grade Teacher

Sacred Heart Greenwich Middle School Faculty Blog

My Fifth Grade Teacher

I credit my education to Ms. Mabel Hefty just as much as I would any institution of higher learning.

By President Barack Obama

When I entered Ms. Hefty’s fifth-grade class at Punahou School in the fall of 1971, I was just a kid with a funny name in a new school, feeling a little out of place, hoping to fit in like anyone else.

The first time she called on me, I wished she hadn’t. In fact, I wished I were just about anywhere else but at that desk, in that room of children staring at me.

But over the course of that year, Ms. Hefty taught me that I had something to say — not in spite of my differences, but because of them. She made every single student in that class feel special.

And she reinforced that essential value of empathy that my mother and my…

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