Community Celebrates Excellence in Education at Annual Champions for Children Event
John F. Kennedy High School teacher Michael Williams was named the 2016–2017 Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) Teacher of the Year. Williams, who has worked for MCPS for 14 years, was named Teacher of the Year during the 14th annual Champions for Children Awards Celebration, an event honoring excellence in education. The event’s theme was “Inspiring Excellence.”
“Michael Williams is the embodiment of our “Inspiring Excellence” theme,” said Board of Education President Michael Durso. “He inspires his students to challenge expectations and tackle obstacles to their success. He is an educator, role model, and mentor. I congratulate Mr. Williams and all of our awardees tonight.”
The announcement was made by Kimberly Oliver Burnim, the 2006 MCPS, Maryland, and National Teacher of the Year. Mr. Williams will now go on to compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Mr. Williams was one of three finalists for Teacher of the Year, along with Kimberly Skufca, technology education teacher at Shady Grove Middle School, and Andrea Segovia, third grade teacher at Ashburton Elementary School.
All three were named finalists by the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund, making them eligible to compete for MCPS Teacher of the Year.
“Michael Williams and the other Teacher of the Year finalists represent the outstanding commitment and dedication of our teachers and staff throughout the district,” said Larry A. Bowers, interim superintendent of schools. “We want to offer them and all the honorees our congratulations and thank them for helping to make MCPS one of the nation’s best school districts.”
This year’s Champions for Children celebration was held at Wheaton High School and was hosted by MCPS and the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education (MCBRE). MCBRE is a nonprofit organization, 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 Champions for Children awards are a reflection of the excellence that abounds within MCPS schools and facilities,” said Tiffany Godbout Williams, executive director of MCBRE. “We congratulate the school system's leadership and the award winners for their accomplishments.”
The event was made possible through generous donations from sponsors, including Fitzgerald Auto Malls and RMA Worldwide Chauffeured Transportation, the cosponsors of this year’s 2016–2017 MCPS Teacher of the Year Award.
MCPS Teacher of the Year
Michael Williams is the resource teacher for the social studies department at John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring. He teaches Advanced Placement (AP) World History, U.S. History, and African American History.
Colleagues and parents say his teaching ability is invigorating and epitomizes excellence. He demonstrates a commitment to equity in education and developed programs to promote student achievement and leadership.
The greatest example of this is in his role as cofounder of the Montgomery County Minority Scholars Program, a student-driven initiative aimed at reducing the achievement gap by expanding the number of African American and Latino students in honors and AP courses. This program has not only seen an increase in the number of minority students participating in those classes, but it has also expanded to 15 high school and three middle schools.
He is also a mentor to students, and often assists them as they prepare for the transition to college. He has been involved in other extracurricular activities as well, most notably as head coach of the boys’ varsity soccer team and sponsor of the Black Student Union. In 2014, he was honored with the Humanitarian Award by the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Commemorative Committee of Montgomery County. In 2014, Mr. Williams conducted research in Chile through the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching Program.
Of Mr. Williams, Walter Johnson High School Principal Jennifer Baker wrote: “The greatest educators are fueled by a passion and drive that cannot be stopped. They have something more that shines through in their work, and, in turn, energizes their students. I have never met a teacher more enthusiastic and determined to eliminate the achievement gap. It is his mission, heart and soul … He makes a difference in the lives of students.”
Prior to joining Kennedy, Mr. Williams taught U.S. History, AP World History, and African American History at Walter Johnson High School. He received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Howard University, a master’s degree in history from Northwestern University, and a master’s of teaching degree in secondary social studies from Johns Hopkins University.
All of the Teacher of the Year finalists receive $1,000 from the Greenblatt Educational Fund and $1,000 from MCBRE. As the MCPS Teacher of the Year, Mr. Williams will receive an additional $1,000 from MCBRE and a one-year auto lease from Fitzgerald Auto Mall.
Several other MCPS staff members and community members were recognized for their excellence and commitment at the Champions for Children event. They are—
Samir Paul, computer science teacher, Montgomery Blair High School, Greenblatt Rising Star Teacher of the Year;
Kaila Wiggins, first grade teacher, Clopper Mill Elementary School, Greenblatt Rising Star Teacher of the Year;
E. Frank Kaplan, principal, Strawberry Knoll Elementary School, Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision;
Craig Stewart, security assistant, Winston Churchill High School, Supporting Services Employee of the Year;
Cigna, Business Champion for Children; and
Melissa McKenna, Recording Secretary of the Delegates’ Assembly and CIP Committee Chair, Montgomery County Council of PTAs, Volunteer Champion for Children.