Four Finalists Named for Teacher of the Year Award

April 28, 2004
Four Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) teachers have been named finalists in the Montgomery County Teacher of the Year competition. The local Teacher of the Year winner will be announced at the Champions for Children Gala on Wednesday, May 5, at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda. The program will begin at 7:00 p.m. Other awardees at the gala will include outstanding administrative and supporting services personnel from MCPS, as well as business and individual volunteers.

The Champions for Children Gala is an annual event to honor outstanding contributors to education in Montgomery County. It is sponsored by the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education, the Montgomery County Board of Education, and the Montgomery County Council of PTAs.

The Montgomery County Teacher of the Year will compete with 23 other teachers for the title of Maryland Teacher of the Year, who will then advance to the national competition. The winning teacher also becomes part of a state network of exemplary educators working with the Maryland State Department of Education on policy and program development.

The Montgomery County Teacher of the Year finalists for 2004 are:

Gina Anazco
ESOL Teacher at Rock Creek Forest Elementary School

Anazco arrived in the United States from Ecuador not knowing a word of English. She began her career as an educator with MCPS in 1994 and has taught at Rock Creek Forest since 2000. Over the past 10 years, she has worked her way up from substitute teacher to instructional assistant to classroom teacher, and aspires to be a principal one day. Understanding the correlation between school performance and the school-home partnership, she serves as a parent outreach coordinator, and she organizes quarterly meetings on topics crucial to students' success. She is an active participant in the school's homework club and Believe-Achieve Program. "I believe in telling my students repeatedly that they can and will succeed," she says. "Most of all, my students know that I love them for who they are, not only because I tell them frequently, but because I demonstrate it."

Frieda Cooney
Health Teacher at Gaithersburg Middle School

Cooney, who has 30 years of teaching experience, has been with MCPS since 1987, filling roles as a teacher, trainer, and curriculum writer. As a health teacher at Gaithersburg Middle School since 2001, she has created an interactive environment with lively discussions and role-plays. She engages students' families in home projects and encourages parent-teen communication through assignments such as home interviews. At parent meetings, she shares the Red Flags of Depression program and offers Family Life and Human Sexuality training. Among her many activities, she has written the pedestrian safety policy for Gaithersburg Middle School. "I provide structure and encourage an 'eyes open' skills-based program where everyone can be successful," she says. "Every student is 'smart' in a variety of ways, and my program gives all a chance to achieve success."

Eleanor Goodwin
English Teacher at Winston Churchill High School

Goodwin has been an English teacher at Winston Churchill High School since 1997 and has 10 years of teaching experience. She teaches her students to think, analyze data, and become effective problem solvers. Literature also is used as a launching point for lessons centered on equity, tolerance, and diversity. With a demanding program of reading and writing, Goodwin's classes are centered on discussion of literature that deals with the basic questions about life. Over the past three years, her students have averaged a 96 percent passing rate on the AP English Literature and Composition test. A former SGA sponsor, she now oversees the Cherish Children Club. Goodwin encourages her students "to see the interconnectedness of knowledge and human destiny, to realize that the products and processes of reason in mathematics and the sciences are accompanied by moral, political and artistic assumptions and consequences."

Stewart "Gene" Walker, III
History Teacher at Kingsview Middle School

Walker has taught at Kingsview since 1998 and has been a teacher for the past 10 years. He hails from a long line of educators, including his mother, aunt, and late grandfather. Blending humor, enthusiasm, and high expectations, Walker uses anecdotes, discovery methods, and open discussions to make history real and relevant. While at Eastern Middle School, Walker used his role as school store sponsor to encourages healthy peer relationships among teenagers and teach social skills. Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder (CHADD) recognized him as the 1999 Outstanding Teacher of the Year. "I believe that my day-to-day positive interaction with my students is the greatest contribution I can make," Walker says. "My words and actions in the classroom every day have the power to lead students into a better understanding of our world and of each other."

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