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Blair Journalism Teachers Wowed With $5,000 Surprise

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As part of a celebration during Teacher Appreciation Week, three MCPS teachers at Montgomery Blair High School were surprised with $5,000 for classroom supplies and for the journalism program for their hard work and dedication.

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Maryland Lt. Gov. Aruna Miller was on hand to honor Michele Elie, Jeremy Stelzner and Maria Tanos, who work with students to produce the award-winning school news publication, Silver Chips. It is the only school newspaper in MCPS that features a Spanish-language section, La Esquina Latina. In the journalism publications courses, students learn and develop school, community, state and national news stories. Students write, edit, design, advertise for sponsors and subscribers, and distribute the publications to the community and nationally. There is a print newspaper and online publication.

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The teachers will use the $5,000 to pay for membership fees to student journalism publications, equipment such as computers and cameras, and reimbursements for reviews done by the publication. A little about the honored teachers:

Elie is a National Board Certified teacher and advisor for Silver Chips Online. She is currently teaching Silver Chips Online, 12th grade honors English and African American literature, initially an elective that she has revamped and developed to become a core English course. She was director of Sankofa – Blair’s theatrical production celebrating Black history and culture, and was the founder and coach of Blair’s poetry slam team.

Since 2010, Stelzner has taught English, Advanced Placement literature and journalism and in 2012, he began serving as an adviser to Silver Chips. He received the 2022 Columbia Scholastic Press Association Special Recognition Journalism Adviser Award, and has had fiction published in the Jewish Literary Journal, the After Happy Hour Review of Literature and Art, Across the Margin Magazine and the 2024 Coolest American Stories anthology.

A native Argentinian, Tanos has worked for MCPS for six years. At Blair, she founded the Latinx Leaders Association Club, which supports and brings leadership opportunities to Latinx students. She teaches the Spanish journalism class and works as a faculty advisor for La Esquina Latina, the Spanish language section of Silver Chips.

Lt. Gov. Miller was joined by National Education Association (NEA) and PTA leaders, students, school leadership and MCPS Interim Superintendent Dr. Monique Felder, who visited the school’s media center to deliver the oversized check, balloons and flowers. 

The NEA and national PTA have teamed up to coordinate surprise visits to other teachers in Colorado and Kansas.