"I've never been speechless, but as soon as I heard him say my name, I froze. I just thought, 'This is the President of the United States of America, and he's standing like 10 feet away from me.'"
Latasha, an assistant principal from Florida, had dinner with President Obama and the First Lady a few weeks ago—a great experience, she says, once she got over her shock.
"Once I composed myself, it was like eating dinner with your next-door neighbor. He made us feel so comfortable and calm. He said he loves doing these type of dinners, it's one of his favorite things. Up until that moment I couldn't say anything—but as soon as he said that, I could see the whole table of guests just relax.
"We did talk a little politics, but I'm not a politician. I'm an average person who wants somebody with my best interests at heart—I don't do all that other political rhetoric. So to make us feel as though we're important enough that the President wanted to find out about us and who we are—that meant the world to me."
She says the guests found common ground with the President and First Lady:
"They talked about being parents, they talked about the values that they instill in their kids. We even shared some of the same issues. And I sat there and thought, 'They are just regular human beings!'
"I also took away some things they do with their own kids. They started a book together with the girls, and they all read it and talked about it—like a book club for the family. I figure if we can start reading more with our kids, first of all that's just building a bond, and second of all, it's strengthening their reading skills. After we left my husband was like, 'Okay, what book are we starting?' I'm letting my daughters decide. It's the little things we can do as a family that mean a whole lot—and I know the Obamas feel the same way with their family.
"It was also great to hear what the First Lady had to say about exercise and fitness. I asked her how she keeps her family healthy, and she said, 'I teach my kids every day that you can have anything you want, as long as it's in moderation.' I'm constantly saying that to my kids at school—I'll walk around and ask, 'What do you have on your plate?' Just this last week, I talked two boys into making healthier choices. And they'll see me and say, 'Ms. Scurry! I don't have a cookie today!' And I say, 'Awesome! You can have anything in moderation, it's okay, but not every day!'"
Latasha says the meal reinforced the work she does as an educator:
"I'm in education for the kids. One of the most important things the President said is that we have to mentor children, and that's what I do every day. And especially now that I've sat down with the President, my message is even stronger: Education is key. That's the only thing that's going to help you out of any situation or into a better situation. So that experience just heightened my message and told me I need to keep doing what I need to do."
Already a strong supporter, Latasha says she's just as excited as ever to cast her vote for the President.
"It gives me a sense of pride to know that I'm supporting him, and hopefully people who are connected to me through education or in my personal life feel that they have even more of a reason now to support him, too. Because that's who's going to re-elect this president: regular, ordinary people—the middle class. It's on us."
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