Who’s Your Favorite President?

Who’s Your Favorite President?

Alfredo G. Evangelista | Assistant Editor

It’s mid-February with celebrations galore. Mardi Gras (on Feb. 13) (Hello New Orleans!), Ash Wednesday (on Feb. 14), Valentine’s Day (also on Feb. 14 and it’s a Leap Year, ladies) and yes, President’s Day (celebrated on Feb. 19; President Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is on Feb. 12 while President George Washington’s birthday is on Feb. 22). BTW, 2024 is a presidential election year …

Since 1789, forty-five males have served as president of the United States. (While the count of Presidential succession is forty-six, only forty-five men have served—Grover Cleveland was both the 22nd and 24th President. See box on page 9 for list.) All except one have been white. Anyone knows who was the only non-white President? If you answered Barack Obama, the 44th president, who was born in Hawai‘i, you are correct!

Figures of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln are carved on Mount Rushmore.
Photo: Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=225975

Here’s some interesting facts.

One president resigned (Richard Nixon).

One president served for only thirty-one days (William Henry Harrison).

One president served for twelve years (Franklin D. Roosevelt).

A few presidents are known by their initials: FDR (Franklin Delano Roosevelt), JFK (John Fitzgerald Kennedy) and LBJ (Lyndon Baines Johnson) while one was known by his middle initial “W” (George Walker Bush) as compared to his dad George Herbert Walker Bush.

There were two sets of fathers and sons who became president: John Adams/John Quincy Adams and George H.W. Bush/George W. Bush.

A set of presidents were distant cousins (Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt).

Four presidents were assassinated while in office (Abraham Lincoln, John Garfield, William McKinley and John F. Kennedy).

Eleven presidents failed to win re-election: Donald J. Trump, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, Herbert Hoover, William Howard Taft, Benjamin Harrison, Grover Cleveland, Milton Von Buren, John Quincy Adams and John Adams.

If you love history or political science, there’s a lot of information about our Presidents that is simply interesting.

Local educators of Filipino ancestry talked about their favorite U.S. Presidents.

Cornelio “C.J.” Ancheta
George W. Bush
Photo: Public Domain, This file is a work of an employee of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, it is in the public domain.

2022 West Maui-Lāna‘i-Molokai Complex Teacher of the Year, Cornelio “C.J.” Ancheta says “I admire two Presidents mainly because of their significant achievements in education reform initiatives. The first one is President George W. Bush. He was responsible for instituting the ‘No Child Left Behind’ (NCLB) Act in 2015. According to edweek.org, the NCLB elevated the federal government’s role in holding the school’s responsibility for the academic progress of all students. As a special education teacher during my early years, I appreciated the NCLB because it supported the learning needs of a group of vulnerable population students such as special education students, English language learners, and poor and minority students. Although there were concerns and challenges, the NCLB produced positive gains in mathematics achievement among young learners. The other leader is President Barack Obama. In 2015, he signed into law the ‘Every Student Succeeds Act’ (ESSA), implemented in 2017 during my first year of teaching. According to the Hawai‘i public school website, Hawai‘i took advantage of this by updating its Strategic Plan to align its requirements. Additionally, Hawai‘i’s accountability system, called Strive HI, provides annual report cards on students’ academic performance and readiness.” Ancheta currently teaches at Lahainaluna High School, teaching Geometry and Algebra II to 10th and 11th graders. He’s been teaching full-time for six years.

Michelle Balala Siores
Barrack Obama
Official White House Photo: Public Domain, Pete Souza – P120612PS-0463 https://web.archive.org/web/20160227060205/https://www.whitehouse.gov

Current Kahului Elementary School teacher (Grade 2) Michelle Balala Siores also names Obama as her favorite President. She states “Obama’s most significant achievement was making healthcare accessible and affordable for all. As the first Black American President, he had to overcome prejudice and he did so by leading our country with grace and intellect. Obama’s greatest asset was his ability to inspire and enrapture others with his speeches.”

The Presidents of the United States
George Washington (1789–97)
John Adams (1797-1801)
Thomas Jefferson (1801-09)
James Madison (1809-17)
James Monroe (1817-25)
John Quincy Adams (1825-29)
Andrew Jackson (1829-37)
Martin Van Buren (1837-41)
William Henry Harrison (1841)
John Tyler (1841-45)
James K. Polk (1845-49)
Zachary Taylor (1849-50)
Millard Fillmore (1850-53)
Franklin Pierce (1853-57)
James Buchanan (1857-61)
Abraham Lincoln (1861-65)
Andrew Johnson (1865-69)
Ulysses S. Grant (1869-77)
Rutherford B. Hayes (1877-1881)
James Garfield (1881)
Chester Arthur (1881-85)
Grover Cleveland (1885-89)
Benjamin Harrison (1889-93)
Grover Cleveland (1893-97)
William McKinley (1897-1901)
Theodore Roosevelt (1901-09)
William Howard Taft (1909-13)
Woodrow Wilson (1913-21)
Warren Harding (1921-23)
Calvin Coolidge (1923-29)
Herbert Hoover (1929-33)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933-45)
Harry S. Truman (1945-53)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (1953-61)
John F. Kennedy (1961-63)
Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-69)
Richard Nixon (1969-74)
Gerald Ford (1974-77)
James Carter (1977-81)
Ronald Reagan (1981-89)
George H.W. Bush (1989-93)
William J. Clinton (1993-2001)
George W. Bush (2001-09)
Barack Obama (2009-2017)
Donald J. Trump (2017-2021)
Joseph Biden, Jr. (2021–present)
Image Credit: Image may be purchased at Amazon.com from the HLBNWB USA store (HLLNWB USA Presidents Portrait Poster School Classroom Wall Decoration Learning History Flag Poster)

Ancheta agrees. Obama “championed the cause of the economic boom during his term and health care reform, popularly called Obamacare.” Ancheta cited Obama’s “character traits of being conciliatory, assertive, considerate and gracious” which made Obama a great leader. “He used these traits to overcome his challenges during his term. Additionally, his skill in building a team, presenting his ideas fluently, and ability to make quick decisions contribute to his great leadership.”

Cecilia Jacinto with husband Mihai Ene and daughter Natalia Ene
Photo courtesy Ene ‘Ohana
George Washington
Illustration: Public Domain, Gilbert Stuart – https://www.clarkart.edu/ArtPiece/Detail/George-Washington-(1)

“George Washington is my favorite president because he exemplified leadership,” declares Cecilia Jacinto. “He was a founding father of the United States of America and he played an important part in establishing the U.S. Constitution. Afterwards he was elected as the first U.S. president and he set a precedent of a peaceful transfer of power.”

Jacinto taught for three years in Pennsylvania and seven years at Kahului Elementary School (Grade 4) before taking a sabbatical to care for her child. “Washington overcame multiple significant challenges,” she explains. “He was the commander of the Continental Army and led the Patriots to win against the British in the Revolutionary War. Then he led discussions and kept the peace while the Founding Fathers wrote and ratified the U.S. Constitution. As the first U.S. President and ‘Father of the Nation,’ he had to set many precedents and pave the way for the newly formed government and nation. George Washington’s leadership skills created the United States. He was able to work with many different people through a difficult process and build a nation.”

Joanne Carter with husband Craig and children Isaiah Cabatu, Taliah Cabatu, Railee Carter and Jessee Carter.
Photo courtesy Joanne Carter
William Howard Taft
Image: Public Domain, Pach Brothers, restored by Adam Cuerden – National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. NPG.80.198

Nine-year veteran teacher Joanne Magliba Carter (Kahului Elementary School where she teaches K–5 ELL) says her favorite President is William Howard Taft, who served as the 27th President from 1909 to 1913 and the tenth Chief Justice of the United States, serving from 1921 to 1930, the only person to have held both offices. Carter notes President William McKinley sent Taft to the Philippines in 1900 as the Chief Civil Administrator. Taft was considered as “sympathetic towards the Filipinos, he improved the economy, built roads and schools and gave the people at least some participation in government,” expounds Carter. “Taft successfully argued for the construction of the U.S. Supreme Court building. He felt the Supreme Court should distance itself from Congress because it was a separate branch of the government. Prior to this, the Supreme Court heard cases in the Capitol building.”

In addition to having their favorite President, these educators of Filipino ancestry utilize their favorite President’s leadership skills in their classroom.

“At the beginning of the school year, I instill in my students the need to be peaceful and productive in the classroom. Washington’s leadership skills exemplified being peaceful and productive,” explains Jacinto. She describes how during the first week of the school year she has students work as a class to solve a puzzle she created for them and later, within their own teams, solve each other’s puzzles. “This team building activity establishes community, creativity and problem solving. Like Washington, the students learn to be productive within a group and to complete their work in a timely manner. Also, they need to be creative like the Founding Fathers by creating a new puzzle.” Jacinto emphasizes the importance of the students working together cooperatively and peacefully to solve the different puzzles. “During this activity, the teammates realize they must use kind words, take turns, and listen to each other’s ideas to be successful with the puzzle. They also see that if a classmate is being unhelpful or unkind, then it takes time away from creating and solving the puzzle. Afterwards, we keep the puzzles on our wall as a reminder of their need to continue to be peaceful and productive as good citizens and strong leaders within our school.”

Ancheta notes although he is a math teacher, “my advocacy for implementing Project-Based-Learning in the classroom models some of President Obama’s leadership skills. When my students conduct projects to solve real-world problems, I teach them 21st century learning skills such as creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.” Ancheta spoke of a recent energy sustainability project completed by his students which allowed them to work collaboratively with their groupmates and present their project to a large audience, such as the school’s student showcase. “They learned how to create a brochure encouraging the community to shift to using LED lightbulbs.”

Siores emphasizes “In my class, I teach my students to always show Aloha. Obama showed the spirit of Aloha everywhere he visited.”
“Teaching about our past president’s leadership is important because students should be given the opportunity to learn about and celebrate the accomplishments and sacrifices of each one of our nation’s presidents,” explains Carter. “Students can identify the traits that make a great president such as honesty, integrity, perseverance and strong communication skills.”

So, who is YOUR favorite President? You have forty-five to choose from. Think about it.

Assistant Editor Alfredo G. Evangelista majored in Political Science at the University of Southern California. His favorite President is JFK who was assassinated when Evangelista was five years old. He remembers asking his Mom Catalina “Why did they shoot our President?” and seeing John-John salute his Dad’s casket as it went by. And yes, Evangelista believes there was a conspiracy to assassinate JFK and has read several books on the subject.