Teachers are finalists for award

September 20, 1992|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

C Two Howard County residents have been selected as finalists for Maryland's fifth annual Teacher of the Year award.

Charles Levie, a math teacher at Howard High School in Ellicott ** City, and Bonnie Block, a kindergarten teacher at Riverview Elementary School in Halethorpe, are among seven finalists competing for the honor.

The award recognizes outstanding teachers for excellence in leadership, community involvement, teaching style and philosophy.

The winner will receive a $2,000 cash award, a trip aboard the Pride of Baltimore, a set of encyclopedias, a week-long trip to Huntsville, Ala. to participate in Space Camp, and a five-day trip to Washington, D.C. to attend an international education conference.

"I feel very flattered," said Mr. Levie, who has taught for 19 years. "We've all known great teachers in our lives; we don't pretend to be that."

Mr. Levie said he became interested in teaching after he entered the military in the 1960s. During a tour of duty in northeastern Thailand, he helped teach English to high school students.

"It felt nice," he recalled of the experience.

"Every year you meet a new group of people," said Mr. Levie, who has taught 11 years in Baltimore City and eight years in Howard County. "Kids have the same needs, the same insecurities."

Among his accomplishments, Mr. Levie has been chosen Howard County's Teacher of the Year and has studied math education in Kanagawa, Japan.

While Mr. Levie praised certain aspects of Japanese education, he emphasized that American education is better at teaching children to think critically.

"Our top kids are trained to think and create," Mr. Levie said. "We're doing many, many things well."

At Riverview Elementary, Mrs. Block has introduced many programs that have increased students' self-esteem, including the Learning Buddies program between learning disabled students and kindergarten students, and Hugs, a 12-week after-school program for students and their parents.

"I love feeling that I can make them feel good about themselves," said Ellicott City resident Mrs. Block, who has taught kindergarten for 16 years.

Mrs. Block said she takes great joy in watching "her kids" mature throughout the school year.

"My kids know how to introduce themselves," Mrs. Block said, with a touch of pride. "They can share crayons."

Mrs. Block said she could not have accomplished so much without the support and love of various school administrators and her family.

"When I come home late, it's OK," she said. "When I don't feel like talking, it's OK. It's accepted."

In October, Mrs. Block will introduce the Hugs program at an international education conference at the University of North Carolina.

"It's a wonderful feeling that you can make a difference," she said.

The five remaining finalists are: Myrtha Allen, a biology/environmental/science teacher at Patterson High School in Baltimore; Virginia Crespo, a social studies teacher at Broadneck High School in Anne Arundel County; Barbara Gillin, an elementary teacher in Kent County; Trudi Niewiaroski, a social studies teacher at Richard Montgomery High School in Montgomery County; and Paula Swayne, eighth-grade history teacher and reading specialist at Braddock Middle School in Allegheny County.

The winner will be announced Sept. 25 on Maryland Public Television at 9 p.m.

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