Two Being Honored as Rising Stars of the Year
Two teachers have been named Rising Star Teachers of the Year by the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund. This award honors teachers with less than five years of experience whose creativity and enthusiasm encourages students to stretch themselves and achieve more.
This year’s recipients are Helene McLaughlin, a physics teacher at Northwood High School, and Erin Crowley, a kindergarten teacher at Somerset Elementary School.
Since McLaughlin joined the staff at Northwood two years ago, enrollment in physics classes has increased by 50 percent. Northwood Principal Mildred Charley-Greene calls her a “change agent.” She engages students through guest speakers, excursions to see physics in action and a “punkin chunkin” contest, which helps students understand the laws of physics and velocity. McLaughlin revived Advanced Placement (AP) Physics as a course offering, and will lead a new AP Physics 2 course next year. She created and sponsored the Northwood Physics Club, and took three teams to the 2017 Central Maryland Physics Olympics, the first time in more than five years that Northwood has participated. She also worked with students to create a Science Olympiad team, which will compete for the first time this year. In addition, McLaughlin writes project-based physics curriculum for MCPS based on the Next Generation Science Standards.
“Her love for physics and the sciences comes through in how she presents the material, and it’s contagious. Her belief in her students is also integral in how the students perceive their ability to master the material and be successful,” a colleague wrote in a nomination letter.
Along with teaching kindergarten, Crowley is also a team leader at Somerset Elementary School. She effectively differentiates instruction to meet the skills and abilities of her diverse class, which includes special needs students, children with physical disabilities, and non-native English speakers from a variety of backgrounds. Colleagues and parents describe her as organized, caring, innovative and flexible. She goes above and beyond to build confidence in children and establishes relationships with parents that foster a sense of safety, security and sensitivity towards all her students. She monitors achievement through anecdotal records, observations and assessments, and collaborates with her team to share best practices. Last year, 100 percent of her students were reading at Level 6 by the end of the year. Crowley leads her school’s STEM initiatives, and employs Hour of Code and FIRST in Robotics in her classroom. She is also a member of the school’s leadership team.
Her principal, Kelly Morris, commented, “Ms. Crowley’s classroom is a place where children feel free to take intellectual risks, learn from each other, and collaborate with one another, even at such a young age.”
McLaughlin and Crowley will each receive $1,000 from the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund. They will be honored at the Champions for Children celebration on April 18 at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.