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UMBC prepares next generation of leading K-12 educators with commitment to community

It has been a banner year for UMBC community members committed to improving the quality of K-12 education. This spring The Washington Post and Baltimore County Public Schools honored two UMBC alumni as teachers of the year. Earlier in 2016 UMBC collaboratively launched a major initiative to boost student support, community engagement, and STEM and arts education in local schools—K-12 schools where UMBC alumni have already had a significant impact as educators.

These high profile announcements are emblematic of the UMBC alumni who demonstrate outstanding leadership as teachers, mentors, and role models for children every day. They also are the result of UMBC’s long-term investments in innovative teacher education programs and effective community collaborations, a level of national leadership recognized in recent years by the White House and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Setting a high bar

“As the Baltimore County Teacher of the Year, Carter is noted for his enthusiasm, his authenticity, and his work to be a champion for students inside and outside of the classroom,” writes Education Postin a new story highlighting Corey Carter ’08, biological sciences, ’10 M.A.T. Carter, who teaches science and co-founded the My Brother’s Keeper mentoring program at Old Court Middle School in Pikesville, was named 2016 Baltimore County Public Schools Teacher of the Year earlier this year.

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Corey Carter at a Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars event at UMBC

“His ultimate goal is for his students to love science as much as he does,” the article notes. “He wants his students to rush home to their parents and caretakers to talk about what they did in science class that day. He believes that being a teacher was a profession that chose him because his parents encouraged him to read, to ask more questions, and always look for answers, which is what he now hopes to instill in his students in the classroom.”

Carter explains in the article the importance of teaching the whole child, and the need to champion students both in and out of the classroom. He also calls attention to the need to support teachers and their ongoing growth. “As teachers, we always do what needs to get done, but we don’t always reach out for help, even if we do need it,” he says. “One of the most important ways to support educators is by simply asking them what they need to be successful.”

Shalonda Holt ’07, biological sciences, teaching certificate in education, shares this core value of supporting students and teachers as whole people with vast potential. Holt was named the 2016 Washington Post Teacher of the Year after previously being selected as Howard County Teacher of the Year. As a biology teacher at Centennial High School in Ellicott City, Holt has been a leader in innovative teaching methods and encouraging students to follow their passion.

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Shalonda Holt, photo courtesy of the Howard County Public School System

“Shalonda has such a powerful impact on her students and fellow teachers,” said HCPSS Superintendent Renee A. Foose in a Howard County Public School System press release announcing her recognition earlier this year. “She is a dedicated educator who truly cares about her students and strives to improve the education experience.”

Supporting local communities 

While Holt teaches in Howard County and Carter in Baltimore County, many UMBC alumni teach in Baltimore City, where UMBC has numerous K-12 educational and student support partnerships, some dating back decades.

Three years ago, UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and Lakeland Elementary/Middle School Principal Najib Jammal met to lay the groundwork for collaboration inspired by the vision and philanthropy of George and Betsy Sherman. The partnership that emerged brought UMBC’s Sherman STEM Teacher Scholars Program, Shriver Center Peaceworker Program, and The Choice Program to Lakeland, and it has already had a major impact.

This work reached a significant milestone at the start of 2016 when UMBC, Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Northrop Grumman Foundation partnered to launch a $1.6 million partnership to boost science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) education. Among those working every day to make this project a reality are educators like Caryn Horrigan ’09, M.A., TESOL, a Lakeland teacher who has offered steadfast support for students as they actively work through the issues underlying the 2015 Baltimore Uprising.

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Caryn Horrigan (left) at educational partnership launch event

Others are working on these same issues, but in different contexts. Kevin Maxwell ’02, Ph.D., language, literacy, and culture, CEO of Prince George’s County Public Schools, and Margaret Weber ’12, M.A.T., art education, a New York City Public Schools visual arts teacher, recently joined colleagues at UMBC’s 10th Annual Arts Integration Conference, which focused on social justice. Throughout the conference they shared best practices to build cultural awareness, enhance community engagement, and provide opportunities for students to become advocates for social justice both in and out of the classroom.

As Secretary Duncan said in a 2015 event on campus, highlighting UMBC’s strength in preparing the next generation of teachers, “You’re not just talking about this, you’re living it. You’re walking the walk.”

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UMBC President Freeman Hrabowski and former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Header image: Caitie Fleming, early childhood education program, teacher in Freedom School at Lakeland, pictured with a student. All photos by Marlayna Demond ’11 for UMBC unless otherwise noted.