Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2007

Back where he started

Former student returns to Cedar Grove as teacher

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Brian Humphrey experienced the first day of school from the other side of the teacher’s desk.

The 23-year-old Damascus resident began his teaching career Monday as a fourth-grade teacher at Cedar Grove Elementary School, the same school he attended through second grade.

‘‘I’m rather excited to start the first year, also a little scared,” he said last week. ‘‘There’s a lot to do ... I’m ready to get started.”

Humphrey took a break from decorating and organizing his classroom on Aug. 22 to talk about his expectations for the coming year and how he came to teaching.

‘‘I always expected to be a teacher, at least in high school,” he said.

The 2002 Damascus High School graduate took child development classes and completed an internship during his junior and senior years with then-Damascus High School basketball coach Patrick Cook, a world studies teacher at Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg.

‘‘I didn’t need to give him guidance, he interacted with kids that needed help,” Cook said.

Cook also knew Humphrey as a basketball player on the high school team, so he hired him as a counselor at a basketball summer camp he ran after his high school graduation.

‘‘I thought he worked very well with kids,” Cook said. ‘‘He was awesome.”

Humphrey graduated from McDaniel College in Westminster in May 2006 with a degree in sociology, then completed his student-teaching requirement the following fall in Carroll County to earn a teaching certificate. In the spring, he worked for The ARC of Montgomery County’s special education program at Gaithersburg High School.

‘‘I was very impressed in our interview with both his knowledge of instruction and good teaching and his dedication to his students,” Cedar Grove Principal Lee Derby said.

Last spring, Damascus High School athletic director Rob Leonard called to ask Humphrey if he would coach the high school junior varsity basketball team.

‘‘He knows basketball,” Leonard said. ‘‘He connected well with the players and they responded to him.”

Humphrey expects to bring his love of sports into the classroom. Pictures of a football, basketball, baseball, soccer ball and tennis ball already hung on one board. Reading groups will be named after his favorite teams — Redskins, Orioles, Wizards and Terrapins, he said.

‘‘In student teaching, I was a Redskin fan, they were Ravens fans,” Humphrey said.

He would use statistics from the old Redskin glory days of the 1980s to demonstrate math lessons to show why the Redskins were better, he said.

Humphrey plans to stock the class library with some of his favorite sports books, as well as book on several other topics to appeal to everyone in the class, he said. The class of 23 is fairly evenly divided between boys and girls. Students will be expected to read 25 books during the year, he said.

Humphrey said he would use the first day of school to set rules and expectations.

‘‘This is our classroom, not mine,” he said. ‘‘We’ll talk together to come up with rules and consequences.”

He will also work closely with the fourth grade team of teachers.

As a student, Humphrey was transferred out of Cedar Grove after second grade when Lois P. Rockwell Elementary opened. He is looking forward to seeing his second grade teacher, who substitutes at the school.

‘‘I’ve had a few reminiscences with teachers who were here when I was here,” he said.

Humphrey describes himself as ‘‘the quiet kid in class. I did what I was told.”

Cook expects Humphrey has a great future in teaching.

‘‘He’s somebody who will listen to [students’] needs and meet the kids’ needs with humor and an open mind,” he said. ‘‘He wants to be very good and that’s going to drive him to do the things that will be successful.”