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Harford County Public Schools
Teacher of the Year Blog


Teacher of the Year Blog
About Amy




              For me, this blog has been a venue in which I not only share my journey and adventures related to the title of “Teacher of the Year”, but it is also a way in which I can share my perspective of the dedication and people who work hard for students every day. Today this blog is not about politics, or the many debates that stem from the topic of school safety. Today this blog is about people- and the strength that prevails during and after tragedy, and the power of positive actions.

               Last month, another sad school tragedy occurred, forever impacting so many and cutting short the lives of 17 individuals who served as great beacons of light not only within their school, but the entire community. One cannot help but think of the lives lost not only during this school shooting incidence, but of those in the past.

               On December 14, 2012, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shootings took place. A total of 26 adults and children lost their lives that day. I was teaching at Edgewood Elementary School and a staff meeting was held at the end of the day to address this tragedy. While I cannot remember his exact words, I vividly remember, Larry Jehnert, a former HCPS teacher of the year, standing up to address everyone. His voice quivering, he conveyed that in light of this school shooting, it stands to reason now more than ever, the importance of the profession of teaching. In light of tragedies such as these, students need to be reminded, and will be reminded by our constant presence and support of them. Despite all that is going on, both negative and positive, we as their teachers will be there with them.  He then went on to cites pecific and beautiful examples of how he observed the impact of teachers on student lives. Larry’s words have stayed with me over the years, and sadly through each and every school shooting I hear about.

              While we wish we could go back in time and reverse what happened at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school last month, we know that sadly that is not possible. But as we move forward, whether we are students, teachers, administrators, parents of students, school staff member, or a community member, I would encourage you to make 17 conscientious decisions to positively impact our schools and their communities. Here are just a few (specifically 17) ideas:
  • Surprise a student with a teacher/ student lunch time.
  • Write a note/ letter to a colleague telling them how their instruction has impacted your teaching and perspective.
  • Volunteer at a local community event.
  • Go through your books at home and surprise a new teacher with gently used books for his/her classroom.
  • Send a note home to a parent sharing the positive impact of their child’s participation in class. Require a signature. OR Make a phone call home (with the student present) sharing the positive news.
  • Bring a treat for the staff lounge.
  • Write a note to each student in your class, telling him/her why you are thankful that they are a part of your class.
  • Surprise staff with a jeans day.
  • Keep a box of chocolate in a special place for other staff members to seek instant morale boosts in the form of chocolate.
  • Make a staff or student shout out board (a brag board) where students could write a positive on a sticky note and leave it on a bulletin board.
  • Look at the character education traits reinforced at your school and ask students to identify specific examples about how they have seen peers carrying out those traits.
  • Send an email to a colleague with a quote or note of encouragement.
  • Write a positive note for students and teachers using sidewalk chalk outside of the school building.
  • Surprise a co-worker with lunch or flowers.
  • Create a staff or classroom chicken soup for the soul book asking students and teachers to share a story of a time when they met a challenge head on.
  • Have a weekly announcement celebrating a staff or student accomplishment.
  • Start a dialogue with students or other staff members. What is your strongest character quality? Why? 
                      Negative actions have negative consequences, but may we never forget or underestimate the power in the positive actions.