Cleary said he was selected to attend the meeting through the American Federation of Teachers, who found him through the New York State United Teachers. He said it wasn’t clear why he was chosen over another teacher from the state, though he suspects it has to do with his out-of-classroom activities.
“My work outside of my classroom, which is my primary job, of course, does involve getting people to register to vote, encouraging people to support initiatives that are pro-education, pro-schools, pro-student,” he said. “It’s been something I’ve been doing for a while.”
Regardless of why he personally was picked, Cleary said he was honored by the selection.
“It’s really humbling, and it’s a tremendous responsibility knowing that you’re going not for yourself, but to represent all of your colleagues in New York state and all of New York’s schoolchildren,” he said. “It’s a tremendous honor and a tremendous responsibility.”
Cleary also said he gained tremendous respect for those working in government after the experience.
“You meet people who work their whole lives in government, not necessarily just elected officials, but who labor every day for the public,” he said. “You find people who are tremendously motivated and very proud of the work they do to help people. Government takes a lot of shots, but the people who work in it want nothing more than to be of service and to make our country a better place. It makes you feel very, very proud.”