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Judith A. Resnik Elementary School Art Teacher named MCPS Teacher of the Year

May 21, 1999
An art teacher at Judith A. Resnik Elementary School has been selected to receive the MCPS Teacher of the Year award.

Shelley Johnson, a veteran teacher who has previously received awards for excellence and service, will represent the county in the competition for the 1999-2000 Maryland Teacher of the Year.

All local teachers of the year will be candidates for the Maryland Teacher of the Year, who will be announced at an awards dinner at Martin's West on October 8. Finalists for the state award will be named in July.

Johnson joined MCPS as an art teacher at Fox Chapel and Darnestown elementary schools in 1975. Currently, she serves as the team leader for art, music and physical education instruction at Resnik. She is a member of the school's Instructional Advisory Council, and, since 1997, has worked as a mentor for new teachers.

She also chairs a school program that brings in professionals to work with students on special projects, a highly regarded annual international night festival and a project to plan and implement school-wide activities correlating the millennium and the curriculum.

Of all these activities, however, she is perhaps most in her element in the classroom at Resnik, which in addition to the regular education program, has an inclusion program for students with orthopedic disabilities. She has responded to the unique challenges of this population with an award winning program that adapts the art curriculum to fully involve all students. In a project to have students design and create a 12-foot painted sundial on the courtyard patio, for example, Johnson fabricated special brushes and paint rollers to allow students to paint from their wheelchairs and arranged mats for students who could lie down to paint.

Johnson's pilot for the Adaptive Arts Program, which complements and enhances the studies and skills of the special education students, was recognized by the Montgomery County Council of PTAs (MCCPTA) for innovative excellence in 1995.

Johnson also has enhanced the art program for all students with numerous grants that have brought professional artists into the school to work with students and have provided funds for innovative projects that integrate other disciplines into the arts. In the sundial project, for example, which was supported by a grant from the Montgomery County Arts Council, students worked with an artist-in-residence.

For the past two years, Johnson has won grants from the Maryland State Arts Council for a poet-in-residence to work with students. Collaborating with other teachers, Johnson had the students decorate their poems with dried flowers and watercolor paints, then mount and frame their creations.

In this and other projects, Johnson collaborates with teachers at all grade levels to offer art lessons that reinforce and extend the particular curricular units in science, social studies and other areas being studied.

For many projects, Johnson relies on a devoted cadre of parents, whom she encourages to become involved in the art room. She is active in the Resnik PTA as the third vice president and staff liaison another way she maintains close ties with parents and the community.

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