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Secretary of Education John B. King Jr.: 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me (I Loved Meeting Martin Sheen!)

John King and Barack Obama
King and President Obama in 2015. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Have your ice cream cake and eat it too! In honor of National Teacher Appreciation Week, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. reveals his favorite treat exclusively to Us Weekly, along with numerous other surprising facts (he’s a force to be reckoned with in fantasy football!), in his 25 Things You Don’t Know About Me.

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Indeed, the member of President Barack Obama‘s Cabinet enjoys ice cream cake so much that he tried to convince his now-wife that they should have Carvel as their wedding cake. (Nice try, John.) 

 He also tells Us that one of his most cherished childhood memories is getting to meet actor Martin Sheen — although the legislator didn’t quite know who he was meeting at the time.

Check out the full list below for more from King, including his story about meeting his wife on a blind date:

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1. I am still paying off my student loans.

2. President Barack Obama and I both have two daughters. We also both love the musical Hamilton. No Cabinet rap battles planned yet, but I love the soundtrack.

3. One of my favorite presidents — other than the current one, of course — is Lyndon Johnson, a former teacher who signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (which launched Head Start), the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

4. Both of my parents passed away by the time I was 12 years old. New York City public schoolteachers saved my life, and I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference for children.

5. I hate bugs. I am a city kid at heart.

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6. I am in a family of educators: My parents were both educators, and my wife began her career as a first-grade teacher and has her Ed. D. in Human Development and Psychology.

7. Reading The New York Times has been a daily ritual since fourth grade.

8. When I was a middle school principal, we started a math peer-tutoring program that both produced great academic outcomes and helped strengthen the role of service and social responsibility in our school culture.

9. I love ice cream cake — specifically Carvel. I love it so much I argued it should be my wedding cake. (I lost.)

10. I taught high school social studies in Puerto Rico and in Boston.

11. My favorite units of the curriculum to teach were on the Bill of Rights, Reconstruction and the Civil Rights Movement.

12. After my first year of teaching, I became a 22-year-old summer intern at the U.S. Department of Education.

13. I believe in second chances — and I think we need more organizations like Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles and more programs like the Goucher Prison Education Partnership in Maryland.

14. I met my wife on a blind date. The woman who introduced us was a colleague who taught across the hall from me!

15. Roxbury Prep, the middle school I cofounded that serves low-income kids from all over Boston, became the state’s highest performing open-admission urban middle school and outperformed schools from Boston’s affluent suburbs.

John King
King Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post via Getty Images

16. During my time as commissioner of education in New York, we developed a historical exhibit and statewide tour featuring Abraham Lincoln’s handwritten 1862 document announcing his intention to issue the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863.

17. Last year, I won my fantasy football league! (This year, I came in third.)

18. I love softball. I coached my daughter’s softball team in Albany, New York, and in Washington, D.C. I have tried to resist the urge to “coach” from the sidelines at her games.

19. I was selected as a Truman Scholar in 1995, joining a group that includes former Arizona governor and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, New York City mayor Bill de Blasio, Senator Chris Coons, author Michelle Alexander and National Security Advisor Susan Rice. I still try to attend alumni events when I can to connect and engage with future leaders in public service.

20. A favorite memory is meeting Martin Sheen as a child. I did not really know who he was then, but years later I was a big West Wing fan.

21. I am the second African American and first Puerto Rican person to lead the U.S. Department of Education — and one of the youngest Cabinet secretaries in history. This humbles me and reminds me I stand on the shoulders of giants.

22. I believe learning starts well before kindergarten. In New York, we won a grant to encourage more opportunities for low-income families to enroll in pre-K.

23. My mom was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. While I was not able to learn Spanish from her because she passed away when I was little, I try very hard to speak the language often and am still learning. Si me conoces, habla conmigo en español!

24. My college essay was about a community service experience from which I learned a tremendous amount. In fact, community service defined my college experience.

25. Having taught high school civics, it is a profound privilege to try each day to serve the president and the American people as well as possible.

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