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Katy ISD Teacher Helps Decorate the White House

Katy ISD Teacher Helps Decorate the White House

December 14 2022

Elizabeth Harden, a GT (Gifted and Talented) teacher in Katy ISD, had the honor to help decorate the White House for the holidays this year. The idea came from a friend of Mrs. Harden who encouraged her to apply for the White House Decoration process, for which hundreds of applicants from around the country apply each year. Seeing this as a uniquely special opportunity to honor her parents and share the experience with her students, Mrs. Harden submitted her application online in October. While many applicants never receive a response, Mrs. Harden did in November and to her disbelief, she was approved.

"My dad was an Army vet. He served for over 25 years and he loved to serve our country. Since he is no longer with us, this seemed like a perfect way to honor him," said Mrs. Harden.
Elizabeth Harden in front of a Christmas tree in the White House.
The experience was also meaningful to Mrs. Harden as a way to honor her late mother as well, who passed away two years ago from COVID-19. When preparing for the trip, Mrs. Harden was asked to bring a 3-inch by 5-inch card with a family recipe. She was not sure what would be done with the recipe card, but followed instructions dutifully. Much to her surprise, the recipe card, which featured a family-favorite recipe that her mother would make called "Whozits", was used to make a garland with other recipes that adorned a tree in the China Room at the White House.
A garland wrapped around the Christmas tree in the China Room included a recipe card for one of her late mother's family-favorite recipes.

Mrs. Harden, along with 150 other decorators, were invited to a gathering with Dr. Jill Biden as well. This teacher is now circling it back to the classroom with her students at Rhoads, Leonard and McRoberts Elementary Schools.  On Tuesday, December 13 she incorporated this experience into her curriculum and taught her GT students the White House Christmas tradition and this year’s theme, “We the People”. To Mrs. Harden, this theme was all about sharing traditions and shared values as a country. Mrs. Harden asked all of her students' parents to submit their recipes and their own holiday and winter traditions, giving her and her students the opportunity to discuss traditions that they can share.

"To bring that experience of sharing and that feeling of togetherness and unity from the White House and bring it back to the kids was very important to me," said Mrs. Harden.

On whether she would participate in this White House decorating opportunity again in the future, Mrs. Harden feels fortunate to have had the experience at all and would want for others to have the opportunity to be a part of it.
A Christmas tree in the Blue Room, which Mrs. Harden helped decorate by crafting nests and other items.
"To know I was doing something that thousands of other people would have the opportunity to see and experience was very meaningful to me," said Mrs. Harden.

By Tiffany Krenek, My Neighborhood News 
Tiffany Krenek has been on the My Neighborhood News team since August 2021. She is passionate about curating and sharing content that enriches the lives of our readers in a personal, meaningful way. A loving mother and wife, Tiffany and her family live in the West Houston/Cypress region.


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