Teacher takes a bow in Assembly

Governor spotlights $5,000-a-year state scholarships

January 17, 2002|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

For a change, Annapolis High School teacher Kevin Schiavone stood in front of the General Assembly and the governor yesterday instead of a classroom full of kids.

The lawmakers, he said, were a little less raucous. They gave him a standing ovation.

Schiavone, 29, was in the first class of Marylanders to receive the state's HOPE Teacher Scholarship. Gov. Parris N. Glendening singled him out yesterday during his State of the State address as an example of the impact of state scholarship programs.

"Yes, it cost the state money to help Kevin become a teacher," Glendening told lawmakers, "but I know you will agree with me that the return on our investment has been spectacular."

About 3,800 students have used the HOPE Teacher Scholarship since the program began in 1999. It provides up to $5,000 a year for state residents in graduate or undergraduate programs. They must commit themselves to teach one year in Maryland for every year of the scholarship.

For Schiavone, the money meant he could attend Bowie State University part time while working part time to support his family. He is married, with a baby on the way.

"You don't have to worry about paying for college," Schiavone said. "Otherwise, I would have had to take student loans, and I didn't want any more student loans."

Schiavone teaches special education at Annapolis High and coaches the junior varsity football team and the varsity baseball team. In the hallways and in the classroom, everyone calls him "coach."

"He's cool. He's the best," said Adam Cantu, 15, who is in Schiavone's science class. "He makes science fun."

This is Schiavone's third year at the school. He began as a provisional teacher before he received his master's degree in education from Bowie State. Principal Joyce Smith, who hired him, said she could tell he was a gifted teacher.

"He's concerned about students and their welfare and success, and they can tell," Smith said.

Yesterday, teachers and students at the school crowded around televisions to watch Schiavone bask in the applause of the state's most powerful politicians - and Cal Ripken, who mouthed "Congratulations" to Schiavone while everyone cheered.

"We were all excited for him," said teacher Norma Clarke. "The kids love him, and the teachers love him."

Schiavone graduated in 1990 from Severna Park High School, where he played football and baseball. His 13 home runs set a county season record.

He went to the University of Maryland, College Park on a partial baseball scholarship and graduated in 1994 with a degree in criminal justice. He thought he wanted to be a police officer, but then he started coaching at Glen Burnie High School.

"I worked well with the kids and they responded to me," he said. He realized that teaching in a classroom might not be so different from coaching on the field.

"Whether you're teaching the game of baseball or you're teaching social studies, you still have to know the kids and you still have to know what you're talking about," Schiavone said. So he went back to school and earned his master's degree in 2000 with the help of the HOPE Scholarship.

The state has spent $21.8 million on the program since it began. It is well worth the cost, Glendening told lawmakers yesterday.

"We in this chamber shape the future," the governor said, "by helping Kevin and thousands of other Marylanders realize their dream of becoming teachers."

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