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National Teacher Of Year Gets Presidential Visit With PM-Bush-Top Teacher

April 10, 1991

SLANESVILLE, W.Va. (AP) _ The nation’s Teacher of the Year got top billing in her hometown today, even though the competition was President Bush.

Bush came to this rural community to honor Rae Ellen McKee, a remedial reading teacher at the 170-pupil Slanesville Elementary School.

″The way I figure it, the president wouldn’t be coming here if it wasn’t for her,″ said Phil Reeves, a volunteer firefighter in this tiny town tucked into the Alleghenies.

″You’ve got to remember this isn’t a town really, it’s just an association of farmers with a post office, grocery store and a gas station,″ Reeves said as he put the final touches on a roadside sign.

The sign read, ″Congratulations Rae Ellen; Welcome Mr. President.″

During Bush’s visit today, McKee led him through a reading lesson with second graders using the book ″When I Was Young In The Mountains″ by West Virginia author Cynthia Rylant.

After the ceremony, Bush took McKee’s 7-year-old daughter, Molli, on a tour of Marine One, the president’s helicopter.

″The president has the best chair,″ Molly said. ″He gets to sit by a window.″

McKee, 33, a teacher for 11 years, has worked with students in grades one through six as a remedial reading teacher for two years.

Kenneth Clark, chief of the town’s volunteer fire department, said he’s noticed a difference in the reading ability of his fourth-grade daughter since McKee’s arrival.

″She reads more at night now,″ Clark said. ″She’s really helped her a lot. She really loves her.″

Clark’s daughter isn’t the only one enamored with McKee.

″She brings us treats, sometimes candy bars and stuff,″ said Mary Foster, a sixth-grader. ″She’s fun. She cares for us a lot. I’m proud to have her as a teacher.″

On Tuesday, firefighters took part in a dress rehearsal for the president’s visit. Three military helicopters rehearsed landings and takeoffs on a grassy area behind the school.

″The Secret Service has been by, the Marines have been here too,″ said James Hall, 66, one of the volunteer firefighters. ″It’s the biggest thing to hit Slanesville that I know of.″

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