Kimberly Oliver, a Broad Acres Elementary School kindergarten teacher credited with helping turn around declining test scores at the school, has been named National Teacher of the Year for 2006.
This is the first time a Montgomery County Public Schools or a Maryland teacher has won the award and the first time Maryland has had a finalist for the award since 1992. Oliver will receive the honor from President George W. Bush in an April 26 ceremony at The White House.
“This is an exceptional honor for Kim and for the students and staff at Broad Acres Elementary School. Kim is an outstanding teacher who truly embodies our efforts to help every child succeed and achieve in our schools,” said Dr. Jerry D. Weast, superintendent of schools. “Kim’s students succeed because she gives them her best every day and expects the best from them. The power of high expectations coupled with an excellent teacher produces well-prepared students.”
Oliver was named Montgomery County Teacher of the Year in April 2005 and was selected Maryland Teacher of the Year last October. She was named one of four finalists for the national honor in January.
“We are very proud of our member, Kim Oliver,” said Bonnie Cullison, president of the Montgomery County Education Association. “She ably represents the thousands of highly skilled, hard-working teachers in our school system.”
The National Teacher of the Year Program, the oldest and most prestigious awards program for teachers, focuses public attention on teaching excellence. The honor recognizes Oliver’s community focus, teamwork with other teachers, and desire to see all students succeed.
“I expect every child who comes into my classroom to be successful, and they have every right to expect the best from me,” says Oliver, who began teaching at Broad Acres in 2000. She is a graduate of Hampton University with a master’s degree in elementary education from Wilmington College.
Anyone who has entered Oliver’s classroom has seen learning in action. With her love of reading and ability to tailor lessons and projects to the needs of individual students, Oliver is able to create a classroom that is inviting, hands-on, interesting, and exciting.
“It is gratifying to know that one of our outstanding teachers is being recognized nationally,” said Board of Education President Charles Haughey. “Kim Oliver is an outstanding representative of her profession and of the teachers in Montgomery County Public Schools.”
Oliver is credited with helping turn around declining test scores at Broad Acres. Nearly 41 percent of students in this diverse school of 500 students need instruction in learning English, and approximately 80 percent of their families speak a language other than English at home. With nearly 90 percent of its students qualifying for federally subsidized meals, Broad Acres has the highest poverty rate in Montgomery County.
Now a model for school reform, in 1999, Broad Acres was in danger of being taken over by the Maryland State Department of Education because of the low performance of its students. With the 2001-2002 school year, the school system began the first major reform of an individual school, implementing the Early Success Performance Plan at Broad Acres. The effort involved staff members in extended hours, extra work days, and acceptance of individual responsibility for student success. In 2003, 2004, and 2005, Broad Acres met or exceeded all requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001.
During this transition period, Oliver served not only as a kindergarten teacher, but as a team leader and in additional leadership positions.
Oliver is certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and has mentored 10 of her fellow teachers as they have pursued national certification. She serves on Maryland’s Professional Standards Board and K-12 Leadership Council.
This school year, Oliver still spends some time working with Broad Acres students. In her role as Maryland Teacher of the Year, though, she has relinquished many of her teaching duties so she can spend time visiting other schools and attending conferences.
As the 56th National Teacher of the Year, Oliver will spend the next year representing all of America’s teachers at more than 150 events around the nation.