WaPo Awards Honor Stephen Knolls Principal, North Bethesda Teacher
Kim Redgrave, principal at Stephen Knolls School for the past six years, is the MCPS finalist for The Washington Post Principal of the Year. Daniel Werbeck, a seventh grade science teacher at North Bethesda Middle School, has been named finalist for The Washington Post Teacher of the Year.
Redgrave is in her sixth year as principal at Stephen Knolls, a school that serves some of Montgomery County’s most medically fragile students. Students range from 3 to 21 years old, with varying degrees of disabilities. Most are non-verbal and non-ambulatory.
She is a true advocate for Stephen Knolls families.
She has transformed the building into a bright and lively place.
She has created a strong and powerful bond between the school and its community. Last year, she spearheaded an “It Takes a Village” community barbecue and invited dozens of people instrumental in helping Stephen Knolls run smoothly. She has formed a partnership with the Property Management Association (PMA), a group of local business owners who have worked together to plant flowers, trees and memorial bricks, upkeep the school grounds, and donated more than $25,000 to the school.
She led an immersion program of picture symbols and communication devices, ensuring that all Stephen Knolls students have a voice.
Through the schoolwide “Today I Can Do Anything (TIDCA)” initiative, she uses what she observes in the classroom to provide students and staff a TIDCA award that is presented each week. She understands the importance of building her staff up through genuine positive interactions.
She has paired the school community with Operation Gratitude, an organization that sends care packages and letters to soldiers. She has led the school through the process to become a Green School, and organized food drives and clothing drives.
Stephen Knolls “is not just a job that [Redgrave] goes to every day,” wrote Elisabeth Kirk, marketing director for TRC Engineering. She “is always thinking of the children and staff of Stephen Knolls and how to make their life and jobs easier.”
Redgrave graduated from State University of New York with a master’s in special education.
Born and raised in Long Island, N.Y., Werbeck has been at North Bethesda since 2013. Inspired by his own science teacher who made learning fun, he has known that he wanted to be a science teacher since he was 14 years old. He believes that all students can be successful learners if given confidence-building tools in and out of the classroom.
He is widely regarded as an engaging teacher who works to find ways to promote equitable access to STEM programs and clubs. He believes in developing a love for and interest in all science for all students. He spearheaded the development of a Grade 6 STEM extracurricular activity.
He is talented in breaking down complex topics, according to Principal AnneMarie Kestner Smith, and understands “the need to frontload vocabulary and incorporate multiple modalities into his lessons so that every learner’s needs are met in his classroom.”
He has developed the school’s Science Olympiad team and has coached them to three consecutive state championships. The team has also excelled at the national level, winning a school Spirit Award at the 2016 tournament. In 2018, Werbeck won the Coaching Excellence award. The Science Olympiad team is limited to 30 members and more than 100 students try out each year. Because of this, Werbeck is currently designing a Grade 8 STEM elective for the 2019–2020 school year, so more students can take part in the type of problem solving and critical challenges that team members experience.
He coaches boys’ softball, hosts intramural sports activities and sponsors the Environmental Club. He is also the elected faculty representative to the school’s instructional leadership team.
Werbeck “instills in our children an infectious desire to learn and achieve,” a group of North Bethesda parents wrote in support of him. “He is the epitome of student engagement, strong leadership and positive community support. Through his leadership and teaching skills, he challenges our children to learn beyond academics.”
He earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education, minoring in chemistry and special education, at York College in Pennsylvania. He has completed all coursework in the master’s program in Curriculum and Instruction at McDaniel College, and is completing the requirements for a Maryland Administrative I certificate.
The Washington Post Principal of the Year Award seeks to recognize those principals who go beyond the day-to-day demands of their position to create an exceptional educational environment. The Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award honors a prekindergarten–12th grade teacher who ensures students receive a high-quality education through first-class and creative instruction.
Redgrave and Werbeck were chosen by MCPS for their exceptional work and unwavering commitment to students.