Award finalist urges pupils to teach others

Honor: Fellow educators praise a Teacher of the Year candidate for encouraging youth to think, share and take risks.

October 20, 2004|By Tawanda W. Johnson | Tawanda W. Johnson,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

When Kevin Mulroe, a gifted-and-talented resource teacher at Clemens Crossing Elementary School, imparts knowledge to his pupils, he hopes that they use the information to help themselves and others.

"I want them to be able to go out and live the American dream, and to be able to give back to the community," he said. "I want them to share their gifts with others."

Mulroe, 31, was a finalist this month for the Maryland Teacher of the Year award sponsored by the state Department of Education. And although he was not the winner among the seven finalists, he said he was "flattered to be a part of the group."

Bradford Engel, a social studies teacher at Kent Island High School in Queen Anne's County, won the award and will next compete at the national level. The finalists were chosen after written applications, oral presentations and interviews.

Mulroe, who grew up in Montgomery County and lives in Howard County, recalled learning about teaching as part of a family of six children.

"We always played school, and I was always the student," he said. "So I got to see how everybody else did it."

Mulroe, who has been teaching for eight years and is in his third year at Clemens Crossing, said he makes it a point to build relationships with his pupils.

"You have to take that time and get to know them," said Mulroe, who earned degrees from George Mason University in Virginia and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

He also said he works hard to make class enjoyable.

"I use a lot of humor," he said.

His classroom assignments have ranged from a stock market project to running a school-wide election based on the U.S. presidential candidates.

Principal Peggy Dumler praised Mulroe's contributions to Clemens Crossing.

"He connects with all the children and encourages them to reach a higher level of thinking and risk-taking," said Dumler. "He is an outstanding teacher, and this is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate."

Annette D'Amico, who serves on the school PTA, described Mulroe as an "enthusiastic teacher who's very imaginative."

"He makes things very fun for the kids, and he always expects a child to do [his or her best]," she said. "He also dresses up as characters to bring stories to life."

D'Amico also said Mulroe encourages his pupils to work with others in a positive way.

For example, D'Amico said, Mulroe suggested that a pupil help cheer up another who was upset about a haircut. She said the child told the other pupil that it was just hair and that it would grow back.

On one occasion, Mulroe let pupils "shoot paper into a wastebasket after they correctly answered questions."

"Well, the kids thought that was [so cool]," D'Amico said.

D'Amico and Dumler credited the school's previous principal, Arlene Mindus, who retired at the end of last school year, with suggesting that the Columbia school nominate Mulroe for the award.

"She knew that he was someone special," D'Amico said.

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