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Article updated: 1/29/2014 3:18 PM

Schaumburg teacher awed at State of Union

Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 science teacher Michelle Burke, right, was a guest of 8th District Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth for the State of the Union in Washington D.C. Tuesday.

Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54 science teacher Michelle Burke, right, was a guest of 8th District Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth for the State of the Union in Washington D.C. Tuesday.

 

Courtesy of Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth

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Even as Schaumburg science teacher Michelle Burke was waiting to take off from Washington D.C. Wednesday morning, she was still coming down from her once-in-a-lifetime experience of watching President Barack Obama's State of the Union address in person the night before.

"I just sat there the whole time awe-inspired," Burke said.

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Burke, a South Elgin resident who teaches at Schaumburg Township Elementary District 54's Addams Junior High School, was the guest of Democratic 8th District Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth for the day.

The two met in October when Burke's school was launching FUSE -- a science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program developed by Northwestern University.

Earlier this month, Duckworth invited Burke to be her guest at the State of the Union as a way to promote the importance of STEM education in keeping America competitive internationally.

And that theme was carried on throughout the whole day Burke spent with Duckworth.

"(Duckworth) was so proud to introduce me and talk about STEM, so I was riding high all night," Burke said. "It was just a really great experience. I was so impressed with the congresswoman. She went out of her way to promote STEM."

Burke said she was further elated when Obama's mention of STEM during the address elicited cheers and applause from the audience.

Her visit to Washington included tours of the Library of Congress and the Capitol. She had lunch there with Duckworth, and later attended Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi's reception before the State of the Union.

While it didn't seem entirely like a typical day on Capitol Hill -- with some things shutting down in the early afternoon -- Burke said she watched Duckworth taking questions on the floor of the House as well as her staff going about their many regular tasks.

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