President Patricia McGuire presented D.C. Public Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee with a “Trinity Washington Woman of Genius” award at Cap and Gown Convocation on Saturday, September 29, 2007. This is the text of the citation that President McGuire read in honor of Chancellor Rhee.
Citation for Chancellor Michelle Rhee
Can there be any greater gift from one human being to another than the gift of knowledge? In its most profound sense, teaching — the transmission of knowledge from one person to another — is the ultimate expression of our humanity, the source of our empowerment, enlarging our intellect while illuminating our soul. We who choose our life’s work in education have long known this simple truth: our learning never ends, our quest for knowledge is limitless, and our capacity to teach each other is infinite.
Sometimes, in the crush of demands and duties that school administrators must address each day, the ultimate purpose of our life’s work can seem diminished in preoccupation with books and buildings and wages and salaries and bus schedules and lunch menus. We build bureaucracies for the “stuff” of our work while the more ephemeral hunger of young minds, and some old, wanders the edge of our consciousness. Thank God for the teachers among us who lift up our life’s work, who make this gift of learning possible each day, who realize our fulfillment in this enterprise by inspiring habits of lifelong learning in our students.
Sadly, in this city as in other places where poverty and violence flourish in the dark corners, too many children do not have the opportunity to know the power of learning. Too many children grow into adulthood unable to read, unable to calculate, ill-prepared for a society that boastfully refers to itself as a “Knowledge Economy.” Only those with knowledge can flourish in such an economy.
Into the crucible of public education in our city now comes a teacher, a passionate advocate for the right of children to receive the best possible education so that they can participate fully in the rights of citizenship, including the right to work and to advance in that powerful Knowledge Economy. Chancellor Michelle Rhee, the new leader of the District of Columbia Public Schools, is unwavering in her focus on students and their academic achievement. To make the changes necessary to achieve equal opportunity for every child in this city, she will need the talent, the time, the expertise and the wisdom of many colleagues and collaborators across institutions and industries in the Washington Region.
Chancellor Rhee, Trinity applauds your courage in standing up for the rights of the District’s children to learn in the best possible environment. Trinity today also pledges our support for your plans and programs designed to improve educational opportunity for our children. Trinity’s support comes in three distinctive forms: through collegiate opportunities for graduates of the D.C. Schools; through providing well prepared teachers, principals and guidance counselors; and through extensive volunteer service engaging all Trinity students, faculty, staff, alumnae and alumni in reaching out to meet the needs of your students and colleagues in whatever locations, through whatever means are necessary to ensure that educational opportunity thrives in our city.
Today, in recognition of your courage in undertaking this great work, and in support of the considerable talent you will continue to bring to this large leadership position for the nation’s capital, Trinity is pleased to bestow upon you the “Trinity Washington Woman of Genius” award.
Given on September 29, 2007 at the Cap & Gown Convocation by President Patricia McGuire
Listen to Chancellor Rhee’s Remarks