Westover Elementary Principal Wins Mark Mann Award
Dr. Patricia A. Kelly, principal of Westover Elementary School, is this year’s winner of the Mark Mann Excellence and Harmony Award.
The award is presented annually to an MCPS administrator who has shown exceptional performance in promoting academic excellence, positive human relations and community outreach. Superintendent Joshua Starr presented the award to Kelly at the April 2 meeting of MCPS administrators and supervisors.
Dr. Kelly began her teaching career in the Prince George’s Public School system and came to MCPS as acting principal at Burtonsville Elementary School. She served as assistant principal at Judith A. Resnik and Greenwood elementary schools, director in the office of Special Education Performance and Accountability, acting director of Special Education, and executive assistant to the Deputy Superintendent of Schools. She was named Westover’s principal in 2006.
The Westover community credits Dr. Kelly’s high expectations for student achievement and her belief that all students can be successful learners as important elements to creating the positive school climate at Westover.
Dr. Kelly is a proactive leader who has introduced education innovations such as Touch Math, the Accelerated Reader Program, and the Leveled Literacy Intervention Reading Program to help students achieve at high levels and eliminate the achievement gap. She deploys her staff based on the performance needs of her students, ensuring that her strongest staff works with the students who struggle the most. She organized the participation of Westover students with autism in the county and state Special Olympics and orchestrated their weekly training with the school’s fourth and fifth grade National Elementary Honor Society.
Longtime Burning Tree Elementary Teacher Wins Lowrie Award
Maura J. Backenstoe, kindergarten and first grade teacher at Burning Tree Elementary School, is this year’s recipient of the Shirley J. Lowrie “Thank You for Teaching” Award.
Backenstoe has been with MCPS for 27 years, the last 12 of those at Burning Tree in Bethesda.
Parents who have children in Backenstoe’s classroom describe her as engaging, energetic, dynamic and compassionate. She weaves current events into her lessons. Building on children’s excitement about the new panda cub born at the National Zoo, Backenstoe’s students made panda bears as art projects. She taught students how to make tools to measure the direction of the wind, and rain gauges to measure the rain. She taught kindergarteners how to use the Braille writer so they could better communicate with a visually impaired classmate.
She has cultivated wonderful relationships with parents, colleagues and community members. Each week, she emails parents an “Ask Me About …” note that lists the lessons and activities that children did in school that week, and offers parents specific prompts to ask children about their school day.
She has mentored many new teachers during their first year at the school, sharing her knowledge and expertise. She also heads up the school’s social committee and fosters a community spirit by organizing staff lunches, holiday parties and events that bring the staff closer together.
The Lowrie award comes with a $2,500 prize from the MCPS Educational Foundation.
The annual award is made possible through the Shirley J. Lowrie Memorial Fund, established at the Community Foundation for Montgomery County. Lowrie taught for several years as a teacher and substitute teacher in California and Connecticut before relocating with her family to Potomac.
Burning Tree Elementary School
Nominations Open for Award Honoring African American Male Teachers
Nominations are open for the 2014 Dr. Alain Leroy Locke Teacher of the Year. This award will be given to two outstanding African American male teachers—one in grades K–8 and one in grades 9–12. The deadline is 4 p.m. on Friday, April 11, but additional time may be possible by contacting Charles Feamster at 301-840-3959, ext. 5307.
The award honors Dr. Alain Leroy Locke, the first African American Rhodes Scholar and member of Phi Beta Sigma. It will be presented by the Tri Sigma Chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity and the Montgomery County Alliance of Black School Educators (MCABSE). The nomination form is available here.