A kindergarten teacher at Brookhaven Elementary School is the 2013-2014 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Teacher of the Year and will now compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
The selection of Cristina Ulrich as teacher of the year was announced Thursday (April 25) during the 11th annual Champions for Children Awards Celebration at MedImmune headquarters in Gaithersburg.
“Congratulations to Cristina Ulrich on being named MCPS Teacher of the Year,” said Christopher S. Barclay, president of the Montgomery County Board of Education. “Her passion for teaching and dedication to her students is inspiring and is leading to great outcomes for our children.”
Ms. Ulrich was one of three finalists for Teacher of the Year. The other finalists were Steven Katz, a math teacher at Westland Middle School, and Dawn Charles, an English teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
“Cristina Ulrich, and all the finalists, are representative of the high-quality educators we have in all of our schools,” said Superintendent of Schools Joshua P. Starr. “They have an unwavering commitment to meeting the individual needs of our students and preparing them for their future.”
The Champions for Children celebration is hosted by the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE) and is made possible through generous donations from sponsors. MCBRE is a nonprofit comprising senior business leaders who share their expertise with MCPS leadership and sponsor programs that connect what students are learning in the classroom to the real world.
“The whole community benefits from strong schools and MCBRE is proud to serve and support the students and staff of Montgomery County Public Schools,” said Bill Kevit, president of MCBRE. “It is important that we take the time to recognize and reward the outstanding employees of MCPS, as well as the volunteers and businesses that work with our schools. They are the people that make MCPS one of the nation’s best school districts.”
Ms. Ulrich has been a teacher at Brookhaven since 2006 and was chosen for her leadership, enthusiasm, and outstanding teaching skills. Brookhaven Principal Robert Grundy said Ms. Ulrich is thoroughly prepared each day and uses multiple strategies to engage her students and individualize instruction.
The results for her students are outstanding. By the end of the 2011-2012 school year, all of her students were reading at or above grade level in a class where more than 75 percent of the students were English Language Learners. Her classroom is a must-see for other teachers who try to emulate her teaching practices. She is among the youngest teachers in the school, but is already the leader of the kindergarten team.
Ms. Ulrich also goes above and beyond in supporting her students and school community. She is a native Spanish speaker and frequently assists Spanish-speaking parents by answering questions and helping to solve problems. She also volunteers with the Literacy Council of Montgomery County, teaching English to adults. Each holiday season, she and her husband work to provide Christmas presents to school families that cannot afford gifts for their children.
“Every teacher cares deeply about his or her students, but I have never encountered a teacher who expresses that caring in such a profound way,” Principal Grundy wrote in a letter of support. He called hiring Ms. Ulrich “one of the best decisions I have ever made in my 17 years as a principal.”
Ms. Ulrich was chosen from among three finalists, all of whom were winners of the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund Veteran Teacher Award. The other finalists were Steven Katz, a math teacher at Westland Middle School, and Dawn Charles, an English teacher at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School.
The MCPS Teacher of the Year finalists received $1,000 from the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund. They will also receive an additional $2,000 from MCBRE and the event sponsors, with $1,000 going to the school. As MCPS Teacher of the Year, Ms. Ulrich also receives the use of a car for one year from Fitzgerald Auto Malls.
Several other employees and community members received awards at the Champions for Children event on Thursday evening. The Champions for Children celebration is made possible by generous donations from more than 40 sponsors. All of the winners receive monetary awards and other prizes donated by sponsors. Among the sponsors are:
- MedImmune, which sponsors the Rising Star Teacher of the Year award;
- UnitedHealthcare, which sponsors the Teacher of the Year award;
- Adventist Healthcare, which sponsors the Supporting Services Employee of the Year award;
- Kaiser Permanente, which sponsors the Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision;
- Lockheed Martin, which sponsors the Volunteer Champion for Children Award;
- The Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the Business Champion for Children Award
The other winners recognized on Thursday were:
· Rising Star Teacher of the Year: Adam Stephens, music teacher, Montgomery Blair High School
· Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision: Eugenia Dawson, principal, Earle B. Wood Middle School
· Supporting Services Employee of the Year: William Cook, operations supervisor, Department of Materials Management
· Business Champion for Children: Hess Construction + Engineering Services
· Volunteer Champion for Children: Susan Burkinshaw, Montgomery County Council of PTAs
Also honored were the winners of the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award and Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, both sponsored by The Washington Post. This year, the Distinguished Educational Leadership Award winner is Carol Goddard, principal at Gaithersburg Middle School. The Agnes Meyer winner is Jacqueline Fludd Peng, social studies resource teacher at Paint Branch High School.