Eleanor Goodwin, an English teacher at Winston Churchill High School, was named Montgomery County Public Schools Teacher of the Year at the Champions for Children Awards Gala on May 5. The annual Gala recognizes outstanding educators and supporters of education in Montgomery County.
Goodwin will compete with 23 other teachers for the title of Maryland Teacher of the Year, who will then advance to the national competition. She also becomes part of a state network of exemplary educators working with the Maryland State Department of Education on policy and program development.
The three other Teacher of the Year finalists are Gina Anazco, ESOL teacher at Rock Creek Forest Elementary School; Frieda Cooney, health education teacher at Gaithersburg Middle School; and Stewart Walker, history teacher at Kingsview Middle School.
Outstanding AP Results
Goodwin, whose students have averaged a 96 percent passing rate on the AP English Literature and Composition test over the past three years, was recognized for teaching much more than English - she teaches students to think, analyze data, and become effective problem-solvers.
Her students state that she is simply the best teacher they have ever had. "Having a one-one-one conversation with her is like taking your mind to an amusement park," said student Terry Tamm. "It is a mentally thrilling experience."
Goodwin helps create that thrill by using literature to teach not just a story line but to expose the basic questions of humanity, tying ideas to contemporary society and making them relevant for teens. In her AP English Literature and Language classes, which she has taught for the past three and a half years, students' discussions range from the "ideal" to the "real" - from topics such as the search for truth, goodness, and justice to the pervasiveness and seductiveness of popular culture. Literature also is used as a launching point for lessons centered on equity, tolerance, and diversity.
A Teacher for 10 Years
Goodwin has 10 years of teaching experience, including working as an English teacher at Albert Einstein High School. She has taught at Churchill since 1997. She has been Student Government Association sponsor, adviser to the Class of 2000 for three years, and now oversees the Cherish Children Club, which recently held a gift drive for Head Start students in Montgomery County.
In the classroom, Goodwin sets high standards through a demanding program of reading and writing. She insists that her students broaden the context of literature in order to appreciate the actual text. Therefore, her students study history, contemporary culture, global economy, art, and other disciplines to enhance their readings.
"Since the arts and sciences are mutual reflections of the human spirit," Goodwin says, "students must be motivated to understand a range of disciplines - throughout their lives - to fully realize their own potential and to lead others with imagination and responsibility."