Area educators are honored as `outstanding'

8 winners selected from 155 nominated by peers, students, parents

Praised for `powerful' gifts

Winners become finalists for countywide Teacher of the Year award

Carroll County

April 23, 2002|By Jennifer McMenamin | Jennifer McMenamin,SUN STAFF

Eight Carroll County educators were honored last night as hundreds of people crowded a Westminster banquet hall to recognize public school instructors who help build students' confidence and make their classroom lessons relevant beyond school walls.

About 450 teachers, school administrators, students, friends, relatives and businesspeople packed Wilhelm Ltd. Caterers' hall for the 14th Outstanding Teacher Awards dinner. The eight winners were chosen by teams of retired teachers and businesspeople from a pool of 155 teachers nominated by peers, students or parents. Each winner received a $300 check and a plaque.

Awards went to:

Susan H. Adami, a Hampstead Elementary math teacher. A 26-year veteran of Carroll County schools, Adami relates math to the real world: She uses a checkbook system with her fifth-graders to award "income" for standard and outstanding behavior and subtract "debits" for misdeeds or omissions of responsibility. Her geometry pupils analyze designs on packaging and advertising to find shapes and relations.

"By working with each child on a one-to-one basis, she can detect a child's strong points as well as their deficiency," a parent nominator wrote. "By devoting her time to each individual's deficiency, she allows the child to improve in that specific area."

Elaine Cherneski, a physical education teacher at Freedom Elementary. By creating "clubs" that recognize achievement in jogging, push-ups, wall climbing and soccer juggling, Cherneski challenges pupils to improve their physical fitness and ensures that all will be recognized.

A parent whose daughter struggled with her academic subjects wrote about how much gym class had boosted the girl's spirits and confidence.

"Here was an 8-year-old who had great difficulty with writing, now suddenly working diligently each night to prepare the roster for the next day's soccer game," the nominator wrote. "From that point on, [she] gained so much confidence in her ability to succeed. ... Ms. Cherneski has shown she can tap into the child's strengths and turn them into a great learning experience."

Amy L. Crouse, a Winfield Elementary first-grade teacher. A fourth-year instructor, Crouse relies on spontaneity and "real-life materials" to spark her pupils' enthusiasm and creativity. A recent mention of a birth in her family sparked children's interest in finding their baby books, photos and infant clothing, and they asked to write stories about themselves.

"Over the years I have met many good teachers and some excellent teachers, but the teaching abilities of Mrs. Crouse [are] above and beyond any other teacher I've known," a parent nominator wrote. "She is only 25 years old, but she has the insight and skills of a mature and seasoned teacher."

Kay Hayes, a Mount Airy Elementary third-grade teacher.

Parent nominators wrote that Hayes' work with their son has transformed him from a quiet and reserved boy who was also "strong-willed and independent in his opinions and actions" into a student who is enrolled - and succeeding - in extended-enrichment classes.

"Her assistance has been instrumental in helping us to be more effective in guiding our son's development," they wrote. "We have become a closer family with a better understanding of our son's needs. Although there's more to do, we believe if it were not for Mrs. Hayes, our son would have continued to struggle, building frustration and becoming more isolated."

Heidi Kohls, a guidance counselor at Cranberry Station Elementary. Kohls works on communication and problem-solving, teaching pupils skills and giving them a chance to test the skills through role-playing and peer mediation.

"When I come across a situation I know another student has just dealt with, I often pull them [in] to help me with the situation," she wrote. "They love this [because] they feel like they are helping an adult - a teacher - solve a problem. Boy, you talk about boosting self-esteem."

Richard Long, a Francis Scott Key High teacher. Parent nominators noted Long's ability to change the workload of their son - who suffers from attention deficit disorder - to make it achievable while pushing him "a step beyond."

By learning about students' outside activities and showing interest in them, Long develops a rapport with students that motivates them to learn. "This creates an environment where students feel at ease, returning later to discuss problems and seek advice," the teacher wrote. "Teaching with humor is so important in a relaxed atmosphere, so that everyone can learn to laugh at themselves, not at others."

Mark Lortz, Westminster High's band and orchestra director. A parent nominator wrote of Lortz's ability to find ways for students to strive, encouraging his students to try out for increasingly difficult positions within their musical group and other extracurricular activities.

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