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Four Teachers Win Greenblatt Excellence Awards

March 31, 2006
One of Three Veteran Teacher Winners Will Be Selected
Montgomery County Teacher of the Year


Four teachers have won Marian Greenblatt Excellence in Teaching Awards, which recognize teachers for excellence in motivating and educating students. The three Veteran Teacher Award winners now become the finalists for Montgomery County Teacher of the Year. The fourth award is given to a first-year teacher.

Winners of Greenblatt Veteran Teacher Awards are Robert Dahlin, music teacher at Ridgeview Middle School; Catherine Ulicny, science teacher at Paint Branch High School; and Karen Wendel, math content coach at Brookhaven Elementary School. The First-Year Teacher Award goes to Alison Divens, special education teacher at Judith A. Resnik Elementary School.

The teacher selected as Montgomery County Teacher of the Year will be surprised with the announcement at the Fourth Annual Champions for Children Gala on Wednesday, April 19, at the Bethesda North Marriott Hotel & Conference Center. The Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE) sponsors the event.

The Greenblatt awards began in 1989 to honor Dr. Marian Greenblatt’s service as a member of the Board of Education from 1976-1984.

Robert Dahlin, Ridgeview Middle School
Robert Dahlin has been the catalyst that has created and sustained a world-class music program at Ridgeview Middle School known throughout Montgomery County and Maryland. As the school’s general music teacher since 1997, he is recognized for leading students to reach beyond their own expectations by demanding only the best, setting the bar high, and letting students know he believes they can reach and exceed it. The school’s music groups—including band, orchestra, jazz ensemble, and chamber string ensemble—have consistently earned top scores in music competitions. Dahlin also has sought out opportunities for instrumental groups to perform in the community. In addition to his work with Ridgeview students, he has, for the past three winters, been the sixth grade honors band director for the north county.

Catherine Ulicny, Paint Branch High School
Recognized as an outstanding master science teacher, Catherine Ulicny teaches AP biology, biotechnology, and biology at Paint Branch High School. She has inspired her biology students to take higher-level science courses, requiring the addition of a third AP biology course this year. A teacher at Paint Branch since 1999, Ulicny often is called upon to give presentations at various science conferences and workshops. She has been a major player in developing the High School Assessments and writing curriculum. Previously a nominee for the Greenblatt First-Year Teacher Award, she mentors new teachers, sponsors student teachers, and has assisted in developing and implementing a Small Learning Communities grant from the U.S. Department of Education. Ulicny also coaches the varsity swimming and diving team at the school.

Karen Wendel, Brookhaven Elementary School
A math content coach at Brookhaven Elementary School since fall 2004, Karen Wendel is often a magnet for teachers, who gravitate to her for ideas on how to teach content and for materials to enhance instruction. A former first and second grade teacher, Wendel always has ideas to share. For example, her work to provide above-grade-level math to students who were not yet prepared for it resulted in every student who worked with her now taking math at least a full grade above their level in middle school. Last year, the percentage of students meeting MSA standards increased dramatically in third, fourth, and fifth grade, where Wendel worked closely in planning with two first-year teachers. Outside her regular work day, Wendel produces materials to support teachers, such as long-range math plans for each grade level. She also has been active in involving parents in their children’s math education.

Alison Divens, Judith A. Resnik Elementary School
Alison Divens, special education resource teacher at Judith A. Resnik ES, is this year’s First-Year Teacher Award winner. A 2005 graduate of Towson University, she approached her new job with energy and enthusiasm, making herself a resource for both students and staff. Over the summer, Divens taught students with special needs in the extended school year program, and when school began last fall, she had organized the resource room and was ready with materials and strategies to support each student’s goals. She stepped in to get the after-school homework club up and running, volunteered to create math unit review packets for grades 3, 4, and 5 and works with flexible math skill groups in the classroom setting. Divens has shared with her students that she is a marathoner. They understand the hard work and discipline required, and can make the connection to what they must do to be successful.

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