Three Finalists for MCPS Teacher of the Year Announced
Three teachers have been named finalists for the 2018–2019 MCPS Teacher of the Year Award by the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund. They are: Kristen Kane, kindergarten teacher at Forest Knolls Elementary School; Edwina A. Kollo, math content specialist at Shady Grove Middle School; and Janet Gallagher, resource teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
Kristen Kane has been a kindergarten and first grade teacher at Forest Knolls since 2011. She is also the kindergarten team leader and PTA staff liaison. She is a collaborative, patient and reflective teacher. She creates a positive classroom climate and develops engaging lessons while building strong relationships with her students. Her classroom is fun, lively and interactive. She differentiates and designs instruction to promote student choice and delivers lessons that meet her diverse learners’ needs. She is skilled at working with students who have special needs, including learning disabilities, speech and language developmental delays and ESOL students. Her classroom data shows student growth from the beginning of the year. One example: 11 of 19 students exceeded the kindergarten winter reading benchmark and six of 19 exceeded the kindergarten benchmark of Level 6. And, 90 percent of her students from last school year made at least a 10-point increase in math MAP testing from the fall to spring. She serves on the school’s leadership team and was a member of the Positive Behavior Improvement and Support team. Kane has also taught at Bel Pre and Highland View elementary schools.
—“Everyone remembers their first elementary school teacher, for better or for worse,” parent Bethany D. Miller wrote on Kane’s behalf. “I can never thank Mrs. Kane enough for teaching my children and fostering their growth as lovingly as she did. I know she does this for every child she teaches.”
Edwina A. Kollo started her career in the world of securities-backed lending and education sales. She moved into the world of teaching as a long-term substitute and loved it. She understands the middle school learner, so she is constantly cultivating self-esteem and confidence in an effort to build relationships with her students. She differentiates lessons, so in her classroom you might find a group of students at the board, another group creating a math problem and a third group listening to instruction on Chromebooks. Students say she always finds a way to help them understand; she never gives up. She believes that “students not only need to understand the processes for solving problems, but they need to be able to connect their learning with prior learning and real-world experience so they are able to apply the math.” Colleagues call her an enormous positive influence and a change agent. She has authored successful grant applications and pioneered an online summer school math class at Shady Grove Middle School. She created an Algebra I Club for students who received a D or E on their report cards. She implemented an after-school program to help algebra students prepare for the final exam; she also planned and facilitated an Algebra Town Hall to inform students about the upcoming exam and preparation opportunities. Kollo has also worked at Rosa Parks Middle School.
—“Her skills and dedication extend beyond what is expected,” said Shady Grove staff development teacher Christine Oxenford. “I have seen her resolve conflicts and handle other difficult situations with remarkable patience and admirable tact. She projects a warm, cheerful attitude. She loves people, works hard and always tries to lift the spirits of those around her.”
Janet Gallagher has served as the resource teacher for the math department since 2015. She is an exceptional leader—organized, flexible and innovative. Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Principal Donna Redmond Jones calls her “an unsung hero in the math classes where exceptional teaching matters most.” Nearly 30 percent of the students in her 2016–2017 Advanced Placement statistics course were African American or Latino. She has also taught math to students in the METS program, which serves students learning English with interrupted educations. Her success with the most vulnerable students serves as a model for the 19 staff members she leads. She has a deep commitment to leading for equity. She regularly studies current research and often adopts new strategies to help students learn. She has written curriculum and routinely identifies professional development opportunities. She facilitated a STEM initiative to encourage rising freshmen to take higher-level math and science courses. She visited a local middle school and engaged dozens of eighth grade girls in hands-on math and science tasks. She also helped organize the Principal’s STEM Advisory Board, which brings together community members in STEM fields to generate ideas to engage students in problem-solving and teamwork. She has also worked at Damascus High School and in Howard County Public Schools.
—“Mrs. Gallagher leads by example, holding students and staff to high expectations, while simultaneously structuring a fun environment in which all feel cared for and appreciated,” says Bethesda-Chevy Chase Principal Donna Redmond Jones. “She is focused on raising the standards for the students who need her most, and neither students nor staff could doubt how committed she is to their success. Her presence is gentle, but her impact is profound.”
The Greenblatt Education Fund is also honoring Erin Crowley, kindergarten teacher at Somerset Elementary School, and Helene McLaughlin, physics and general science teacher at Northwood High School, as the 2018 Rising Star Teachers of the Year. This award honors teachers with less than five years of experience whose creativity and enthusiasm encourages students to stretch themselves and achieve more.
Finalists for the Teacher of the Year Award, who must have five years or more of teaching experience in Montgomery County, are interviewed by a panel of educators, Board of Education members, MCPS staff and representatives from the Montgomery County Council of PTAs, as well as a member of the Greenblatt family.
The teachers, along with other MCPS employees and partners, will be honored for their extraordinary work as part of the annual Champions for Children Awards Celebration. The MCPS Teacher of the Year will be named during the event, which will take place Wednesday, April 18, at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.
The Marian Greenblatt Fund, named for a former Board of Education member, recognizes teachers that inspire their students to achieve, encourage younger teachers to be the best they can be, and help their school and community. The Fund awards each Teacher of the Year finalist a prize of $2,000, and the two Rising Star Teaching awardees $1,000 each.