U.S. Secretary of Education visits Madison STEAM Academy

Published: Sep. 22, 2021 at 7:04 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - South Bend is the hometown of one current U.S. cabinet secretary, but today the city was visited by another.

And a steamy visit it was.

U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona began the day with a visit to Madison STEAM Academy in South Bend.

When he toured a third-grade classroom, one student presented Cardona with a Madison t-shirt.

“Can I shake your hand sir?” Cardona asked the boy. “Thank you. that’s great. How old are you? Eight years old, You speak very well. Have you ever considered running for president or something?”

On this day, that’s about as close as Cardona came to campaigning for anything.

The mood was light as he toured Madison to simply enjoy the moment.

“We spend a lot of time talking about academic loss. We spend a lot of time talking about the digital divide. But the relational divide is something that I’m seeing close right away,” Cardona told reporters at the end of his visit. “I saw students engaging with one another. Smiling, introducing their friends. This is what the road tour is all about really. Celebrating what we know is happening across the country. Students are getting back into the classroom, learning together where they learn best.”

There are 637 students enrolled at Madison this year. Today, not a single one was out with COVID, or spending time in quarantine. “No, I do not, I do not, so that’s a blessing yes,” said Madison principal Amanda Chionacky.

The trip gave the nation’s top dog where education is concerned, a chance to meet Madison’s top dog—Ginger.

“So Ginger is our therapy dog in third grade E.L. classroom,” Chionacky explained. “And you don’t even realize she’s there, you don’t even know that you need it, until she’s there.”

Cardona is on a “Return to School Road Trip” that saw him end the day in Toledo, Ohio.

While it was nice to see his big purple bus arrive at Madison, officials seem anxious to see their ship come in—to see a vaccine approved for the 12 and under crowd. “I’m hoping that it’s soon,” Cardona said. “But I also don’t want to rush that process because I want to make sure there’s a level of confidence that there needs to be when we’re talking about vaccinating children.”

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