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Second Grade Teacher Named Finalist in Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching Program

May 17, 1999
Helene Granof, second grade teacher and science liaison at Burning Tree Elementary School, is one of three finalists in the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching program for 1999. Granof is a finalist in the elementary science category in Maryland. She will now be considered for a 1999 Presidential Award, the nation's highest honor for a K-12 science or math teacher, to be announced during the 1999-2000 school year.

Granof's success in being named a finalist for 1999 continues the strong showing of school system teachers in the national program. Brenda Hammond, a second grade teacher and mathematics liaison at William Tyler Page Elementary School, was just named a Presidential Award winner for 1998.

In the 1999 program, the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) named three finalists in secondary mathematics, three in secondary science and one in elementary mathematics, in addition to the three finalists in elementary science.

The 10 finalists were selected by the state for their excellent teaching, educational philosophy and the application of that philosophy in the classroom, past accomplishments, future plans and references. The teachers were nominated by school districts throughout Maryland.

A national panel of experts in education will select up to 216 national winners -- one in each of the four categories in every state and extrastate jurisdiction for the United States -- and will announce the names during the 1999-2000 school year.

Granof joined the school system in 1983 with a strong background in science. For 10 years, she was a medical technologist supervisor in a laboratory at the Clinical Center of the National Institutes of Health. From 1979 to 1983, she taught preschool at a private school while doing graduate studies in early childhood education at the University of Maryland. Since 1983, she has taught at Burning Tree.

Among her projects at Burning Tree, she has coordinated an annual imaginary trip to the moon, planned by students and encompassing an array of innovative activities. This year, the trip received national attention when a description of the students' work was published in the children's magazine, Dragonfly.

Last year, her class received statewide acclaim when the students' slide show on butterflies, a project integrating science and technology, won an award in a contest sponsored by the Maryland Instructional Computer Coordinators' Association. In another project to spark students' interest in science, Granof maintains a thriving beehive in her classroom.

As founder and coordinator of the Cross Age Science Teaching (CAST) program at Burning Tree, Granof has students from Thomas W. Pyle Middle School act as group leaders to teach six lessons to first and second graders at Burning Tree. The program, established in 1984, now involves six elementary teachers and 50 Pyle students. Granof has been actively involved in implementing the new inquiry-based science curricula in local schools.

Since 1991, as a school-based lead science teacher in the National Science Foundation Elementary Science Project in the school system, she has helped to select and field test units and train teachers on presenting the new units.

Outside MCPS, Granof continues to deliver her enthusiasm and scientific knowledge to Washington area children. As a curriculum developer and instructor for the Smithsonian Associates Program, she has given science workshops for children and summer camp sessions on topics such as moon travel, paper chromatography, electricity, and bees and butterflies. She also has worked on the teacher handbooks for school tours at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum.

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