Fourth-grade teacher honored as county's best

April 30, 2006|By CASSANDRA A. FORTIN | CASSANDRA A. FORTIN,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Susan J. Healy topped off a meal of Chinese food last week with the requisite fortune cookie.

Healy, one of 10 finalists for county Teacher of the Year, broke open the cookie and extracted a fortune that read: "You will be recognized and honored as a community leader."

The fourth-grade teacher at North Bend Elementary School in Jarrettsville had not planned to prepare an acceptance speech in case she won, but that little dessert made her think twice.

As it turned out, Healy was named 2006-2007 Harford County Teacher of the Year at a banquet in Havre de Grace on Thursday night.

Even after Healy was informed of the prizes she would get, including use of new Camry for a year and a laptop computer, it still hadn't sunk in.

"I heard my name and I couldn't believe it," she said repeatedly after the event at the Bayou Restaurant, which was attended by about 200 people.

Healy was introduced by fourth-grader Danielle Hurley, who said, "She is always in a great mood, and she's understanding, fun and kind. And her attendance is outstanding."

After winning the award, Healy looked back on her day and wondered whether the pupils had known something she didn't.

She said that when she arrived at school Thursday morning, "the kids were all cheering and saying I was going to win, and I told them we needed to have a fractions lesson," Healy said. "I told them that there were 10 finalists and one me. And that meant I had one-10th of a chance to win. I told them they shouldn't come to school thinking I was going to win."

About three weeks ago, Healy's Toyota Camry was hit in the school parking lot. After Thursday's banquet, she drove one of her prizes, a 2007 Camry that is the first new vehicle she has ever driven, back to her Pylesville home.

In a late-night interview after the ceremony, Healy said that receiving the award was humbling and that she views it as a responsibility.

"I don't want anyone to think I'm a perfect teacher, because there's just no such thing," said Healy, who recently received a master's degree at Towson University. "I'm a product of this district, and I hope to represent what's good about a public education."

The other finalists were Amy Woolf, Roxanne Dodson, Brian Rheinhardt, Holly Rankin, Robert Powers, Nancy Murray, Kerrie Bauer, Margaret Phillips and Mary Ann Hartshorn.

Each finalist received $1,200 from HARCO Federal Credit Union. The original $1,000 award was increased by $200 to cover the taxes, said James Meehan, president and chief executive officer of the credit union.

Healy, who has taught at North Bend for 12 years, will represent the county in the state competition.

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