Passion for teaching

AT WORK

A high school history instructor in Howard County can't picture himself doing any other job

September 12, 2007|By NANCY JONES-BONBEST | NANCY JONES-BONBEST,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Richard J. Malt Jr.

History teacher

Marriotts Ridge High School, Howard County school system

Salary --$42,000

Age: 23

Years on the job --Two

How he got started --Malt attended the University of Maryland, College Park to study architecture. The major wasn't what he expected, so he began taking history classes. He decided to change his major to history and looked to education as way to use his degree once he graduated. Malt said he quickly fell in love with education and the art of teaching. "History is my passion, but with enough training in another subject, I would just enjoy teaching in general."

Typical day --Malt teaches ninth-grade U.S. history, which covers the period of Reconstruction up to the present. He arrives at school by 6:45 a.m. and teaches five 50-minute classes. Malt also has two 50-minute open planning periods. His classes range in size from 22 to 33 students. After-school activities include volunteering as an assistant cross-country coach in the fall and as a paid assistant track coach in the spring. He ends his day by heading back to his classroom after practice to plan for the next day. He usually leaves school by about 6:30 p.m. "I made it my goal not to take [work] home with me during the week." Malt received Howard County public schools' First Year Educator Award during the past school year.

Favorite period in history to teach --World War II up to the Cold War. "That time period fascinates me. I think it's because people are still alive that went through that and experienced it."

The good --"Being able to form relationships with students and interact with 150 different people each day."

The bad --Finding time for a personal life.

Motivating students --Malt said he realizes not every student is going to be as passionate about history as he is. He tries to convey his interest and hopes that some of it will rub off on them. He also realizes that school is not just the 50-minute class that he teaches but includes many experiences. He tries to remain active through such school activities as attending sporting events and serving as an adviser for the Class of 2010. "When students see a teacher cares, they respond a lot more in the classroom as well as outside of the classroom."

On teaching --"Teaching is more than what I thought it would be. I can honestly say I can't picture myself doing anything else."

Biggest challenge --Working with special education students. He said it has became a "fantastic learning experience." Finding what motivated them and what accommodations worked in helping them succeed proved challenging, but it also was his greatest success, he said.

Philosophy on the job --"Understanding that each [student] brings something different to the classroom." Malt said he works hard to motivate the students and sets classroom expectations at an achievable level.

Nancy Jones-Bonbrest Special to The Sun

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