Atholton High School chemistry teacher Kathleen Thompson was named Howard County's Teacher of the Year yesterday and will compete for the title of Maryland Teacher of the Year.
Thompson, who began her teaching career in 1969 at Baltimore's Edmondson High School, also is Atholton's science instructional leader, Howard County's new term for a department chairman or chairwoman.
"She is a very special teacher, an example of the teaching excellence that goes on in this school and throughout Howard County," said Superintendent Michael E. Hickey at a ceremony at the west Columbia school.
The ceremony surprised Thompson and most of Atholton's students and teachers, who had been told the afternoon assembly was to be about teen-age smoking.
Thompson was greeted with a corsage, bouquets of red and yellow roses, a plaque from County Executive Charles I. Ecker, several gifts and a brief performance by Atholton's music department. Lee Summerville, who oversees the county's science instruction, promised $50 to buy new science equipment.
"This truly was a surprise," Thompson said. She told the students that "if I can help you realize the opportunities before you, then I have done what I want to do."
Her students say that's exactly what she does every day in her classroom. "She's a very enthusiastic teacher who gets us excited about chemistry," said junior Manan Bhatt, 16.
The results of Thompson's hard work can be seen in her students' performance last spring on the Advanced Placement chemistry test, said biology teacher Bonnie Luepkes. More than 80 percent of the students -- a substantially better percentage than the national average -- received scores of 4 or 5, which are enough to earn college credit.
Thompson recently led an effort by the Atholton science teachers to obtain a grant from the state to renovate the school's science laboratories. Construction is to be done this summer.
"She has a sparkle in her eye and a gleam in her eye," said Nancy Lee Bradshaw, president of Atholton's PTSA. "I think she imparts that to each student in her classes and each student that she touches."
Earlier this year, Thompson also was selected an Outstanding Science Teacher by the Tandy Technology Foundation, an award that included $2,500 and a feature in Time magazine.
Pub Date: 5/07/97