A teacher from Poolesville, Gaithersburg and Rockville are all in the running for the county’s top spot as 2014-2015 Teacher of the Year.
Montgomery County Public Schools named the three finalists Friday— Kathryn Hageman, a fifth-grade teacher at Diamond Elementary School in Gaithersburg; Jane Lindsay, an eighth-grade English teacher at John Poole Middle School in Poolesville; and Aaron Shin, an eighth-grade U.S. history teacher at Parkland Middle School in Rockville.
Hageman, Lindsay and Shin are each recipients of the Veteran Teacher Award, a recognition by the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund for Montgomery County educators with five or more years of teaching experience. Recipients of the Veteran Teacher Award receive a prize of $1,000 and are then considered for the Teacher of the Year award.
The winner of the award will be chosen by the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education, a nonprofit that brings together business leaders and educators to find solutions to leadership challenges and prepare students for careers. The award recipient will be named during the Champions for Children Awards Celebration at the BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown April 29.
Carol Lange, the principal of Diamond Elementary School, said Hageman, who has been teaching for seven years, is a team leader who has consistently helped her students achieve positive results.
“She’s very creative. She’s a very, very engaging teacher and she just does a very outstanding job all-around,” Lange said.
Lange recalled a STEM project Hageman created that challenged fifth-graders to build a scale model of a doghouse for Clifford the Big Red Dog using only straws and Scotch tape.
“She has that kind of imagination,” Lange said. “She has that commitment to all of her students and then provides extra support for the students who need it. She’s an all-around outstanding educator.”
Hageman, who is on maternity leave, was not available for comment.
Charlotte Boucher, the principal of John Poole Middle School, said Lindsay has “tremendous strength as a leader” and deserves this recognition.
“She’s one of the all-time best teachers I have ever worked with,” Boucher said. “She has energy and focus and intense content knowledge and empathy for children that is not paralleled. We are all proud of her.”
Lindsay, who has worked for MCPS for more than 20 years, is extremely supportive of students, Boucher said, even going out to Baltimore to see one of her students participate in the Maryland Geography Bee.
“I think the entire staff was delighted to see this recognition and the only possible exception was Mrs. Lindsay herself,” Boucher said. “She is self-effacing and she is ready to honor someone else before stepping up herself.”
Lindsay said she had no idea she had been nominated for the Veteran Teacher Award and the educators who nominated her kept it a secret.
“It was one of the rare times in my life when I was completely surprised, completely floored and completely speechless,” Lindsay said. “It was wonderful.”
Lindsay said the Veteran Teacher Award should not belong to one person but rather the entire school community.
“I am so deeply honored to receive this award and I feel very strongly that the award belongs to John Poole Middle School as a whole,” Lindsay said. “Without a supportive administration, a clean, safe building and a group of educators here who are all working for the good of the kids I don’t think I could be as strong of a teacher.”
Benjamin OuYang, the principal of Parkland Middle School, said Shin goes above and beyond his responsibilities as a teacher, shooting hoops with students in the morning or taking students out to play laser tag on a Friday afternoon.
“We are just overjoyed that he has been selected. He’s an extremely hardworking young man and he is so dedicated to the kids,” OuYang said.
OuYang said that during a promotion ceremony for the eighth-graders, the student speaker paused to recognize Shin.
“He said, ‘Mr. Shin, no words are appropriate. We just know that he loves us.’ The entire class gave him a standing ovation,” OuYang said. “I can’t give you the words for it. The kids can do it better.”
Shin said he has received praise from both students and parents and that his selection as a finalist is a victory for Parkland as well.
“I feel like it’s a community win and I’m honored and humbled to represent the community and the Parkland family,” Shin said.
The Marian Greenblatt Education Fund, which selects the finalists for the MCPS Teacher of the Year award, recognizes educators whose achievements continue the legacy of Marian Greenblatt, a member of the Board of Education from 1976 to 1984 who worked to improve academic standards for MCPS students.
Marshal Greenblatt, the president and founder of the Veteran Teacher Award, said that the fund recognizes teachers because of their impact in the classroom and beyond.
“We like to honor excellent teachers because they make the fabric of our community,” Greenblatt said.