AUSTIN (KXAN) — Hill Elementary School teacher Maitri Shah’s first grade class was in awe on January 20 — as they watched Vice President Kamala Harris take the oath of office.
“I was surprised that it was the first vice president that was a girl,” Millie, one of Shah’s students, told KXAN.
“I was just so excited to see the first woman American as vice president,” Charlotte, another student, explained.
Shah said she seized the children’s interest to teach the significance of Harris’ service, which the students loved. She said she taught them the meaning of Harris’ first name, which means “Lotus Flower,” and shared some of why Harris is special to her.
“I’m Indian and I moved here 17 years ago,” Shah recalled. “When I moved here I was worried, like, ‘Will I be accepted?’ and ‘How will it be different than my life back home?’ It’s amazing to see that people just embraced me here and the way they embrace her — it’s so exciting to see that she’s the first Asian, African-American Vice-President in the office. A female.”
Then, with some help and research from parents, the idea was born to write VP Harris a letter, accompanied by special drawings for her.
The class put together a list of questions, including these:
- Do you like Lotus flowers?
- What do you do in the White House?
- How do you feel about being the Vice President? Is it fun?
- Was the Bar Exam hard at all?
Shah and her class sent the letter off to the White House and are now hoping to receive a response from her personally.
“We want all students to be able to see themselves in work we do at school — and to get importance out of it and feel like they are valued here,” said Hill Elementary Principal Jack Drummond.
And that’s precisely the message Shah hopes her students take with them.
“This is the future generation and they’re going to be the next voters in a few years,” Shah said. “It’s so important to have people from different cultures in the White House and that’s why I thought it would be important for them to learn about it.”
VP Harris: If you’re reading this — please respond!