Four teachers with the Montgomery County Public Schools have won Excellence in Teaching Awards from the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund, which recognizes teachers for excellence in motivating and educating students. This is the 13th year awards have been given.
Three veteran teachers were selected to receive awards: Elaine McArdle of Ridgeview Middle School, Carol Schwindaman of Diamond Elementary School, and Dorothy Sturek of Piney Branch Elementary School.
In addition, Peter Petrossian of Thomas Pyle Middle School won the first-year teacher award.
At ceremonies held in their respective school, each veteran teacher was presented with $1,000 and a plaque, and the first-year teacher received $500 and a plaque.
Elaine McArdle, an English resource teacher whose emphasis is drama, was recognized as a person who brings an abundance of energy to the whole school. She has an enormous Oscar statue, over eight feet tall, outside her classroom. She puts on shows every year, oversees a biweekly student-run TV show and has an impressive record of her students winning awards in essay contests and media festivals.
Carol Schwindaman, who has taught kindergarten and Grades 1, 2 and 3, was recognized not only for her excellence in teaching but also for her ability to help others become better teachers as well. She has taken two other third grade teachers under her wing and helped them with their math teaching. Last year-the first year of teaching for the other two-the three teachers raised the MSPAP scores of the 75 children in their care by 21 percent.
Dorothy Sturek, a fourth grade teacher at Piney Branch Elementary School, has been involved with the school for more than 20 years as a parent volunteer, volunteer coordinator, PTA staff representative, instructional assistant, substitute teacher, mentor and team leader. She has excelled in meeting needs of students performing significantly below grade level, in addition to teaching science to gifted and talented students in the magnet program and accelerated math. This year, she worked with fourth grade SGA representatives on a bill to name the pinxterbloom azalea the state shrub, and students testified before a Senate committee.
First-year winner Peter Petrossian, a seventh grade science teacher, was recognized for bringing enormous energy to the classroom and for motivating his students to learn. He runs an "after-school breakfast club" where students can come for additional assistance or just because they enjoy learning, and he has set up an e-mail system for parents to keep track of their children's progress.
Petrossian comes to teaching after a career of many years at the American Psychological Association. Of the five winners of the Marian Greenblatt award for first-year teachers, he is the third to come to teaching in mid-career, perhaps indicating a special kind of enthusiasm for teaching in these "returners" to the education world, according to fund manager Marshal Greenblatt.
This year's winners were selected from among about 25 teachers who were nominated by students and community members in recognition of their influence on their students. This is the 13th year awards have been given.