John Adams

After graduating from Harvard at 19, Adams taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Worcester, MA. While he found positive behavior reinforcement more effective than punishment, he probably wouldn’t have gotten away with calling his students “little runtlings” today.

Millard Fillmore

Not only did Fillmore teach elementary school while clerking for a county judge, but he also married his own beloved teacher, Abigail Powers. For this president, education was a family affair.

James Garfield

One of Garfield’s first jobs was as a teacher in rural Ohio schools. He was paid $12 a month and board, highlighting the United States’s storied history of underpaying educators.

Grover Cleveland

After his father’s sudden death, 16-year-old Cleveland became a teacher at the New York Institute for the Blind in Manhattan to support his family. Cleveland’s story will resonate with many teens today who must also work to help support their families.

Lyndon Baines Johnson

Once he graduated from teachers’ college, Johnson led a classroom of Hispanic students from low-income families in Cotulla, TX. Known for his extraordinary dedication to his kids, he must have had them in mind when he passed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to help end educational inequity.

Also tired of inequity? Tell Congress to invest in educators.


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