My assignment to photograph two lucky teachers who had been selected as winners of the $25,000 Milken National Educator awards felt more like being invited to a surprise party than an assignment. Kiara Delle Hargrove, a chemistry teacher at Baltimore's Polytechnic Institute, and Mabrooka Chaudhry, who teaches social studies at Atholton High School in Columbia, supposedly had no way of knowing they were in the running for the awards, which have been called "the Oscars of teaching" by Teacher magazine.
As it turned out, both teachers had great facial expressions of shock when their names were announced. Hargrove's photo was the one that led the story, however, because the setting at Poly offered more opportunities to photograph her exuberance. Chaudhry was in a darkened auditorium, affording just a few moments for me to catch her facial expressions using a flash on the camera before she walked to the stage. On the other hand, Hargrove was standing near her students in front of the bleachers, and high-fived her way around the gym before reaching the podium. Gym lighting is usually lousy, and Poly is no exception, but by working with the existing dim light and not using flash I could shoot many frames of the graceful, athletic Hargrove in the minute it took her to dash around the gym.