8 county teachers honored

Hundreds attend dinner recognizing outstanding public school educators

May 08, 2001|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Hundreds of educators and community members packed a Westminster banquet hall last night to honor public school teachers for helping to build students' confidence and relate their classes to the real world.

About 515 teachers, school administrators, students, friends and relatives packed Wilhelm Ltd. Caterers' hall outside Westminster for the 13th Outstanding Teacher Awards dinner. Chosen from 159 teachers nominated by peers, students or students' parents, eight winners received $300 checks and plaques.

Awards went to:

Cathy H. Basil, an eighth-grade language arts teacher at North Carroll Middle. A pupil nominator described how Basil makes class meaningful to her pupils. "She tells us how what we do in school today will affect us later," the student wrote, "meaning if someone makes it through school with straight As and Bs, they will go to a good college but if they don't, they won't get a career or life choices."

Ellen L. Kartisek, a social studies teacher at Mount Airy Middle. A nominator wrote about Kartisek's creative teaching methods, such as simulating cave drawings by having students lie on the floor in the dark with drawing paper taped to the bottom of their desks and re-creating a trip down the Nile river by having her students wear life preservers and spritzing them with water. "Students always love going to her class," the nominator wrote, "and never know what to expect from this creative teacher."

Tracy D. Lee, a seventh-grade science teacher at West Middle. "She is a wonderful inspiring teacher," wrote one pupil nominator. "She never yells but still gets her point across. She is an excellent science teacher and makes science tunes of fun!"

Jeffrey M. Leister, an automotive technology teacher at South Carroll High School's Career and Technology Center. A parent nominator wrote about how Leister gave students real-life skills and educational motivation. "[My son] did not consider himself capable of college, but Mr. Leister consistently encouraged him to believe in his abilities ... ," the nominator wrote. "As a result of these efforts, [my son] applied to Carroll Community College. He completed his first semester this fall on the Dean's List."

Karen K. Luniewski, a science teacher at North Carroll High. Parent nominators wrote that Luniewski's class has reinforced their son's desire to go to college and become a high school chemistry teacher. "Mrs. Luniewski has this wonderful personality that just brings out the `want to learn more' in our son," they wrote. "She makes even the boring days interesting."

Tammy L. Matthews, a special education teacher at Robert Moton Elementary. A nominator wrote that his grandson caught up two grade levels in reading after entering her class. "For the first time in quite some time, he is taking pride in what he does and is starting to feel good about himself ... ," the nominator wrote. "Mrs. Matthews is very patient, dedicated and loyal to her students. Today's world could use a whole lot of teachers just like her."

Cheryl A. McDonough, a first-grade teacher at Winfield Elementary. A parent nominator wrote that her 9-year-old daughter uses reading tips she learned in McDonough's class. "First and foremost, [my daughter] learned the importance of learning, that one's education is to be taken seriously and that one must make it their No. 1 priority and responsibility," she wrote. "Children need to realize this and accept this to continue their learning cycle."

Gayle J. Sands, a sixth- and seventh-grade reading and language arts teacher at Northwest Middle. "She helps us by giving us situations that we would see in the real world," a pupil nominator wrote. "It makes us feel good because then we know that she believes in us and that she knows that we can do anything if we try our hardest."

The chamber's annual dinner has grown from what organizers call "an intimate affair" - 20 nominees and relatives gathered at a local hotel the first year - to a social occasion that attracts so many diners that a charter bus company shuttles guests from off-site parking lots to the catering hall.

Organizers also joke that each of the 159 nominees gets about 5 1/2 seconds of fame as they line up alphabetically and stream past the podium to pick up a certificate and a few handshakes.

Last night, between the filet mignon dinner and the awards presentation, guests heard from Carroll County interim schools Superintendent Charles I. Ecker, the two-term Howard County executive who began his career 50 years ago as a teacher and coach in Carroll schools. He rejoined the Carroll school system last summer to finish former Superintendent William H. Hyde's term after Hyde quit to take a job in Montana.

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