A teacher at Neelsville Middle School has been selected to receive the 1999 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award from The Washington Post.
Brian K. Betts, physical education/arts interdisciplinary resource teacher, is among 20 winners of the prestigious award, presented annually to one teacher from each Washington metropolitan area school district. The winners will be honored in a reception at the Post on Monday, April 19. Each winner will receive $3,000 and a Steuben crystal apple.
Award winners were nominated by colleagues, parents and other members of their community and selected by their individual school systems based on criteria such as initiative, creativity, ability to inspire students and exceptional professionalism. Betts was nominated by parents and other community members with the support of the principal.
Betts joined MCPS in 1989 as a physical education teacher at Rock View Elementary School. In 1991, he moved to Redland Middle School and, in 1996, he was selected to help open the new Neelsville Middle School as the p.e./arts interdisciplinary resource teacher. As such, he is the team leader for physical education, art, music, technology education, foreign language and home economics, in addition to teaching physical education classes.
He is also the chairperson of the Student Recognition Committee at Neelsville and, since 1993, the peer mediation facilitator. Concurrently, he is pursuing a master's degree in education at Hood College.
For the past 10 years, Betts has sponsored coaching clinics, organized competitions and coordinated other activities associated with cheerleading and pompons countywide.
His official responsibilities, however, hardly begin to describe the work he does at the school and with students. Among the many additional programs that he has initiated or coordinated at Neelsville are:
a Good Knights Club, which recognizes students who demonstrate good character traits as well as solid academic performance;
a physical education aide program, in which eighth graders who are doing well may help prepare activities for the p.e. department; and
a Tuesday Club, in which he mentors students who are at risk of failing.
His latest effort, an academic pep rally, reinforces the school's push to improve test scores this year. Complete with pompon and cheerleader squads, a pep band and a step team, the rally will take place the week before state and CRT tests.
Initiatives like these also hook co-workers into Betts' ever-widening circle of admirers. Several staff members cited the opportunity to continue working with him as a factor in their decisions to seek positions at Neelsville. At Redland one year, colleagues expressed their appreciation in a more unusual way: a heartfelt letter of thanks to Betts' mother on Mother's Day for providing them with "a wonderful teacher and friend." The letter was signed by the entire staff.
He has also brought his abilities to the wider educational community by writing physical education curriculum for a National Geographic/Sylvan after-school program and a lacrosse curriculum guide for a sports equipment manufacturer.
Yet of all his achievements, what makes Betts the happiest is the relationships he has formed with parents and students, the appreciation of parents and students for his work, and the warm greetings he gets when he attends weekend sports events in which his students are playing.