SPOKANE, WA (ABC NEWS)- The National Teacher of the Year, who teaches English and math to newly-arrived refugee and immigrant students at a high school in Washington state, hand-delivered letters from her immigrant and refugee students to President Donald Trump before a White House event in her honor on Wednesday.
“I personally handed the letters to him and relayed to him that I hoped he would come out and meet my immigrant and refugee students to see how much they contribute to our nation and he told me that he would try to come out,” teacher Mandy Manning of Spokane, Wash., told ABC News.
Manning said the president accepted the letters and directed his staff to put them on his desk where he could read them later. She said while some of the letters are very supportive of the president, others have very pointed messages.
“One letter is from a student who comes from an African nation, and she communicated that she hopes he would be very careful about the language of immigrants because his language has an impact on how people treat her,” Manning said. “She has encountered situations where she has been told to go back to Africa.”
Manning said that she viewed the White House event and meeting with the president as an opportunity to possibly affect his view of the immigrant community.
In remarks recognizing Manning’s achievement as the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, the president noted that she teaches English and math, and that she developed her passion for teaching while in the Peace Corps, but made no mention of the fact that she is a teacher for newly-arrived refugee and immigrant students.
Manning, who was standing on stage during the president’s remarks, said she “noticed immediately” that he had omitted mentioning that she teaches newly-arrived refugee and immigrant students.
Manning also made remarks at the event, prior to the president, but reporters were allowed in the room only for the president’s remarks. Manning said she shared a message focused on hope and the success of her students in her remarks.
“My main message was to share the successes of my students and to show that my students are just like those here in the U.S., that they have dreams and want to be productive members of society,” Manning said.
Mandy Manning, the 2018 National Teacher of the Year, and the three finalists also addressed the audience, Lindsay Walters, Deputy Press Secretary, said in a statement.