Foulks Ranch Elementary School Principal Mary Beth Kropp watched President Barack Obama give the State of the Union address from the balcony in the chamber of the House of Representatives in Washington D.C. tonight. She sat across the room from Michelle Obama and next to a woman whose teenage son was killed by gun violence.
She spoke to The Bee by phone after the speech. "It was amazing and incredibly emotional," Kropp said of the experience. "I can't even explain it. It will all sink in eventually and I'll process all of it."
Congressman Ami Bera - allowed one guest - selected Kropp. "She's a dedicated educator and hero in the community," Bera said in a prepared statement. "She was my daughter's principal, and I've personally witnessed her commitment to her students. But Mary Beth can not do her job alone. Congress must do its part. We must invest in our children, make sure they're being taught real world skills and are ready to compete in the 21st century economy."
During the speech, President Obama proposed working with states to make preschool available to every child in America. Both Bera and Kropp said they were pleased with the president's support for early childhood education. "As an elementary school principal, I can tell students are coming to us unprepared," Kropp said.
She also agrees with his commitment to ensuring high school graduates are career and college ready. She says that preparation goes beyond STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) coursework. She particularly likes the president's plan to offer businesses incentives to partner with high schools.
Kropp says she believes that preparation should actually start in elementary school. She points out that her school, which is 25 years old, still does not have wireless Internet.
"He understands the investment in our children," she said of the president. "... Children were woven through the entire speech. ... I was very inspired."
Kropp said Bera paid for her flight, but that she paid for her hotel and other transportation.