A teacher who loves her work is honored In the Top Ten: Heleen Ellmore has been named one of the best preschool teachers in the nation by Child magazine.

March 21, 1996|By Edward Lee | Edward Lee,SUN STAFF

When Heleen Ellmore signed on to teach preschool at Beth Shalom Nursery School in Arnold in 1992, she figured the job would last only as long as her six-month contract.

"But soon, six months turned into four years," Ms. Ellmore recalled yesterday. "And each year, I'd commit for another. I fell in love with it."

Ms. Ellmore's decision to remain at the school on Baltimore-Annapolis Boulevard has paid off with an honor from Child magazine, which named her one of the Top Ten Preschool Teachers in America in its December/January issue.

"We're, of course, thrilled that she was recognized this way," said Rabbi Robert G. Klensin of Temple Beth Shalom. "We always knew she was one of the best. We're glad the rest of the nation knows this, too."

Ms. Ellmore, 30, was nominated by the school's nursery committee early last year, then selected from group of early-childhood professors and psychiatrists.

The magazine, a national journal for parents published by Gruner and Jahr USA in New York, sent one of the professors, from the University of Maryland, to observe Ms. Ellmore in class before it named her to the list.

"It was a pleasure to observe Ms. Ellmore interacting with these young 4-year-olds with such understanding, sensitivity and concern," Carol Seefeldt wrote in a May 30, 1995, report to the magazine. "Clearly, Ms. Ellmore is very deserving of this honor."

Ms. Ellmore, who said she was surprised to be named to the Top Ten list, gave her students credit for helping her.

"The kids are so much easier to work with than big people," she said. "They're so uncensored, so honest."

Ms. Ellmore said her secrets for success are that she shares bits of her personal life with the children to let them get to know her and that she is willing to sit on the floor to talk to them. Frequently, she can be found on her hands and knees trying to make eye-level contact with the children.

"I really want to be sure that they hear me," she said. "I want them to know that I'm listening to them. And it's much less intimidating."

When a few of the children were telling about recent nightmares, Ms. Ellmore told them about some of her nightmares.

Mary Cohn, whose 3-year-old daughter, Eva, is a student at the school, said Ms. Ellmore also has a gift for persuading shy children to join in school activities.

"I saw her do that with one boy who wouldn't sing and be a part of the group," Mrs. Cohn said. "I was so impressed with her that when I had Eva, I knew I had to have Heleen as her teacher."

The children say they like Ms. Ellmore for numerous reasons.

"I like her because she does things I don't know how to," said 4-year-old Jennifer Rubinovitz of Millersville. "Like tie the cape around me."

"She makes snacks for us," said Joseph Procida, 3, of Annapolis.

And 3-year-old Jacob Gluckman of Arnold said, "I like my teacher because she's my friend. I love her very much."

Pub Date: 3/21/96

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