A high honor for great expectations

Essex educator named county teacher of the year

May 17, 2002|By Stephanie Desmon | Stephanie Desmon,SUN STAFF

For working to give her pupils the experiences they wouldn't otherwise have in their poor Essex community and for sticking with the kids who need her most at Mars Estates Elementary School, fourth-grade teacher Cheryl Bost was named Baltimore County's teacher of the year yesterday.

"Teachers work hard, and we don't get a lot of thank you's," she said, "and this is the greatest thank you you could get."

Mars Estates is in one of the county's poorest communities. Seventy-five percent of the pupils receive federally subsidized lunches, and many of those who start the year at Mars Estates finish at other schools.

It's about much more than schoolwork in Bost's classroom. She teaches respect and preaches high expectations. She takes her pupils camping each fall to expose them to life in a tent and to build relationships that last well beyond.

She started a summer camp at Mars Estates for those who have found seemingly permanent seats in the principal's office. They visit the county jail, nursing homes, swimming pools and more.

"She's very deserving," said Mark Beytin, president of the Teachers Association of Baltimore County, of which Bost is vice president. "She's an incredibly organized person who goes out of her way, well beyond the call of duty on a daily basis to make things work."

Recently, Bost and a group of other teachers from the school spent a Saturday helping a part-time cafeteria worker move out of the Village of Tall Trees apartment that she had to leave because it was being demolished. They helped her put her things into storage, donated clothing and gave support to this member of the school family.

"She was the best teacher I ever had," said Alexander Johnson, an eighth-grader at Deep Creek Middle School who looks back fondly on his time in Bost's class. "She didn't give up on me no matter what. She always told me to stay out of trouble and keep my head up high."

Bost, 35, a Pittsburgh native, moved to Baltimore County 12 years ago, after graduating from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. She was hired at a nearby job fair by Roger Proudfoot, then the county schools' personnel officer. Proudfoot, now principal of Mars Estates, said he is thrilled to have a teacher of the year on staff.

Bost, whose parents and brother attended the festivities, used her forum yesterday to highlight something important to her, finding a way to hire and keep high-quality teachers, "especially at tough schools," she said.

"I've stayed 12 years," she said. "Not a lot of people stay in our low-performing schools."

The other finalists for teacher of the year were Lolita Lassen, a Spanish teacher at Loch Raven High, and Michael Parker, a physical education teacher at Fullerton Elementary.

Aside from the honor, Bost won a $1,000 check from Comcast to go toward the purchase of a laptop computer and the use for a year of a Toyota Corolla donated by the Baltimore Area Toyota Dealers.

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