Three Finalists Named for Teacher of the Year
Three teachers have been named finalists for the 2023–2024 MCPS Teacher of the Year. They are: Megan Anderson, fifth grade teacher at Chevy Chase Elementary School; Eunju (April) Moon, sixth grade English teacher at Ridgeview Middle School; and Shannon McKenzie, child development teacher at Clarksburg High School.
Read more about the finalists:
Megan Anderson is a fifth grade teacher and team leader at Chevy Chase Elementary School. She is National Board Certified, holds a master’s degree in elementary education and is dually certified in bilingual special education.
An educator for 23 years, 16 of them in MCPS, Anderson instills a belief in her students that with a growth mindset and hard work, they can accomplish anything.
Backed by her dual certification, she is skilled in modifying, accommodating and differentiating learning, while teaching students to become independent, critical thinkers. As a result, her students become risk takers, confident readers and high achievers.
Her classroom library is packed with books that embody the cultures and nationalities in her class, and she plays music from various countries as well. She uses mindfulness and community circles to ensure her students can express their thoughts, feelings and opinions. The use of checklists, rubrics and models highlight the criteria for success and meet the needs of diverse learners. Students lead parent conferences so they can share strengths, reflect on their progress and set new goals. Her students understand they can learn from mistakes and grow from new experiences.
Parents and colleagues say she is passionate, kind-hearted and patient. By attending fall festivals, band and chorus performances and hosting movie nights and bike rides to the zoo, she is able to forge strong connections and build long-lasting relationships. In one community where some of the school’s most vulnerable students live, she held reading nights and parent-teacher conferences. She designed a summer school curriculum for rising fifth graders and trained colleagues on writing and tools for interventions.
One of her former third grade students wrote, “She never, ever made me feel that I wasn’t the smartest kid in the class. Even when I didn’t do my best, she made me feel like I was worthy. … I am special because of her.”
Anderson is also committed to a positive school culture. She served as lead coordinator for the Ambassador program, which provides students of various backgrounds with leadership opportunities such as mentoring new students and leading school tours. She coordinated the school play, served as sponsor of the Student Government Association and a sports club, co-planned Read Across America Week and has been a mentor teacher to new teachers and interns from the University of Maryland.
Her students speak highly of her. One wrote: “Mrs. Anderson sees people. She saw me not as a shy person, but as a strong girl that can do anything I set my mind to.”
Eunju (April) Moon is a sixth grade English teacher at Ridgeview Middle School.
Coworkers describe her as caring, kind and masterful at building relationships with her students. Students say she is encouraging and makes class fun. She sets high expectations in her classroom and in life, and gives her students support to reach those standards. She believes that all her students can achieve success, and she is encouraging and positive. She helps to ensure their success by understanding different learning styles, adapting her lessons to match student needs. One student noted how she helped students prepare for college by holding discussions on independence, making good choices, staying on top of work and prioritizing.
Moon is also a lifelong learner and often the first to try something new. When MCPS first unveiled the Canvas platform, she first learned how to use it and then trained the English department on its use. She actively participates in several learning committees, and pursues opportunities to increase her talents in instructional strategies and social issues that can affect student success.
She encourages her students to participate in the annual Mosaic Writing Contest for middle schoolers. In the past six years, five of her students either won or received honorable mention. Her students have also had increases on the vocabulary section of the MAP-R test. In 2021–2022, the goal was to see growth of 2 to 3 points. Her students made increases ranging from 2 to 30 points.
She also makes students feel seen and heard outside the classroom, participating in schoolwide events, such as the kickoff carnival and volleyball jamboree. She connects with the school community, laughing in the hallways with students and coworkers. She is in constant contact with parents about how students are doing inside and outside the classroom.
“Mrs. Moon is one of my favorite teachers because she teaches everything so well and clearly, and explains things when my classmates and I do not understand,” a student wrote. “She always knew how to help us even if we didn’t ask for help.”
A 19-year veteran, she previously taught fourth grade at Spark M. Matsunaga Elementary School, and reading to seventh and eighth graders at Ridgeview. She graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s from Towson University, and holds graduate certificates in administration and supervision and English as a Second Language from Johns Hopkins University.
Shannon McKenzie is a child development teacher at Clarksburg High School. An educator for 23 years, she has been teaching in MCPS for seven. She previously owned and operated a private preschool for 16 years, and worked in the Preschool Education Program (PEP) program at Germantown Elementary School.
In only her second year at Clarksburg, she has rapidly grown the Child Development program, more than doubling enrollment in the second year. Forty-one students were enrolled in Child Development courses the first year; by the next year, 95 students enrolled. The Clarksburg program—the Coyote Pups Preschool Program—serves 12 families.
Colleagues say she is an energetic educator with excellent management and organizational skills, creates a welcoming and inclusive classroom with positive encouragement, challenges students out of their comfort zone, and motivates students to learn.
She is a lifelong learner, most recently attending a conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, and bringing back materials and skills to use in the classroom. She also prepares and arranges intern/mentor partnerships for high school students in her program to learn directly in Clarksburg cluster classrooms. She leverages partnerships to further develop future educators; she recently invited a park naturalist from Montgomery Parks’ Black Hill Nature Programs to share how to incorporate more nature in early childhood classrooms.
McKenzie’s latest endeavor is establishing a chapter of Educators Rising at Clarksburg, with the goal of cultivating a “grow your own” pipeline of MCPS students returning to teach in the system. She is beginning the work of developing partnerships with local colleges that would allow more students to earn an associate degree before high school graduation. This would also provide the opportunity to launch a National Honor Society, or for students to attend national conferences and participate in national skills-based competitions.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education from Towson University and a master’s in mental health and wellness from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Ariz.
“Mrs. McKenzie pours as much effort and attention into all her students, whether they plan to complete the Child Development program and pursue teaching, or whether they are just taking one level of Child Development to fill an elective class,” one of her students writes. “She is flexible and compassionate in combination with her high standards to encourage and support all her students.”
The Teacher of the Year will be announced during an in-person awards celebration in April. The winner will go on to compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year.