Kimberly Oliver, kindergarten teacher at Broad Acres Elementary School, was named Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Teacher of the Year at the April 20 Champions for Children Awards Gala.
Oliver, widely recognized for inspiring students, parents, and staff, will now compete with teachers from other counties for the title of Maryland Teacher of the Year. That winner will then advance to the national competition. Oliver also becomes part of a state network of exemplary educators working with the Maryland State Department of Education on policy and program development.
The Teacher of the Year was chosen from among the three veteran teacher winners of Greenblatt Excellence in Teaching Awards, given by the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund. The other two veteran teacher award winners were Shelly Niverth, a fourth grade teacher at Viers Mill Elementary School, and Ernest O'Roark, a social studies teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School.
Oliver is credited with having a major role in the instructional design of the restructuring of Broad Acres. As a result of declining test scores, MCPS worked to restructure Broad Acres internally beginning with the 2001-2002 school year. As a kindergarten teacher and team leader, and in additional leadership positions, including serving as a mentor, training new teachers at New Educator Orientation, and modeling teaching lessons that explored options for differentiation, Oliver was recognized as always one of the first teachers to offer to help. At the end of the third year of the restructuring, Broad Acres students achieved Adequate Yearly Progress, meeting or exceeding all requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act for the 2003 and 2004 school years.
Last November, Oliver achieved certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. Through her leadership in professional development, she is encouraging the 13 teachers at Broad Acres who are pursuing certification this year. A graduate of Hampton University, with a M.Ed. in elementary education from Wilmington College, Oliver has been a kindergarten teacher at Broad Acres since 2000.
"She has a classroom that is extremely inviting, word-rich, hands-on, interesting, and exciting," said Broad Acres Principal Suzette Chagnon. "Whenever I enter her room, the students are engaged and actively learning."
Other teachers and parents agree. "Ms. Oliver is an example of the type of teacher with whom we would all wish our children could begin their school years," said staff development teacher Diane Hoffman.
Emie Cadet, parent of two of Oliver's former students, still volunteers in Oliver's classroom even though her sons are now in different grades. "She was easy to talk to, even if I could not speak good English," Cadet recalls. "She would always contact parents to tell how your child was doing. I called her my 'family teacher.'"