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Harford County Public Schools
2007 Teacher of the Year

Christine C. Roland

Edgewood High School, Biology/Forensic Science, 5 years in Harford County

Christine Roland, Teacher of the Year
Nominated by her fellow Biology teacher Amy Woolf, Christine Roland is a native of Switzerland where she prepared in the fields of advertising and public relations. Fluent in three languages, she worked for a time as a SCIBA instructor in Egypt and Honduras. After moving to the United States, she switched her focus to Biology and earned her BS degree at Towson University, combining all of her life experiences to become the “Science Diva” of Edgewood High School, as the sign reads on her classroom door.

Mark Herzog, HCPS Assistant Supervisor of Science, calls Mrs. Roland “one of the best pure teachers I have ever watched in action,” adding “there is something attractive, in the best sense of that word, that draws the learner to the teacher and ultimately makes the learner wish to be like the teacher.”

In the relatively short five years she has been at Edgewood High, she has secured a Chesapeake Bay Trust to build a classroom pond, has won two curriculum awards, has been involved in Marine Science curriculum writing, and was the designer and creator of a “Dancing Nucleotides” DVD last year. The most well known of her innovations is the creation of the Forensic Science course.

Both Mr. Herzog and her principal, Joe Schmitz, say they sometimes almost dread calls from the innovative teacher. “I just know she is going to ask me something that will involve changing the bell schedule, or adding to the master schedule, or releasing kids from other classes for a period, or telling teachers they can’t park where they’d like for a week, or otherwise disrupting a creature of routine,” said Mr. Schmitz. “But, I have learned not to say no to her, because I can always have confidence that when she approaches with one of her grand and wild schemes that it is going to provide a special and enjoyable learning experience for her students, and sometimes for the rest of us in the building, as well.”

EHS English Department Chair Beth Hoffman says she is not a jealous person by nature, but truly envies Mrs. Roland. “She exemplifies everything in a teacher that others in the profession aspire to be, and she does it with a grace and style each and every day that compounds my envy,” said Ms. Hoffman. Even that ‘Science Diva’ sign is misleading, said Ms. Hoffman, since Mrs. Roland possesses none of the snobbish attributes of true divas, but “has a deeply held belief that every student, no matter their background or personal beliefs, can excel in school, life, and most importantly, in science.” Mrs. Roland brought the BioBus to Edgewood High so students could “live” Biology.

Heidi Marcotte’s daughter, Aliah, is a student in Mrs. Roland’s class. “She looks up to Mrs. Roland because of the great example she sets and is always excited to go to her class,” Mrs. Marcotte said. “She truly brings the art of science to life – she motivates the students in such a way that they are able to achieve more than they think they are actually capable of.”

Marie Koros Fields said her daughter, as a result of being in Mrs. Roland’s class, now wants to go to college and major in biology.

Amanda Lucker is a student in Mrs. Roland’s class this year, after her brother had been there two years before. “There wasn’t one day that my brother and now I haven’t walked out of her class without a smile,” Amanda said. “You can see her passion and love for biology – she has animals from little fish to snakes; (and) she even put a pond in the back of her room with turtles and pond fish.” Even more important to Amanda is Mrs. Roland’s “wonderful personality (and) unique way of teaching – she’s not just a teacher to me – she’s more like a friend (because) she cares so much for her students.”

Ana Bunger said she entered Biology last year expecting “the most boring class in the world” but, now, “my life has never been the same since – without her, I wouldn’t be taking AP Biology next year, or majoring in Biology in college (and) I would not be so passionate about Biology.”

Adam Sitzes is another former student of Mrs. Roland’s, having been in her Honors Biology and Forensic Science classes. Last year, he was Mrs. Roland’s student aide. “During this year, I noticed how much Mrs. Roland cared for each of her students – she had a connection with each one of them and knew each of their study habits,” he said.

Mrs. Woolf said Mrs. Roland “will be the teacher who students talk about at their 20-year class reunion – her students know they are expected to put forth efforts that match their teacher’s effort to fulfill the unspoken contract that Christine has with them.” Mrs. Woolf said her colleague is a “role model for professional development,” having lobbied to get common planning time for Biology teachers and taking the lead for the professional learning community that focuses on raising Biology High School Assessment scores.

Julie Wolf, senior lecturer in the Department of Biological Sciences at UMBC, said Mrs. Roland’s “Dancing Nucleotide” DVD, with students playing different roles identified by colored t-shirts, with an epic poem written and narrated by one of her students, was magnificent. “I have met some creative and dedicated teachers in my dozen years of teaching professional development biology courses, but Mrs. Roland stands out as a real treasure,” Ms. Wolf said.

Mrs. Roland said ‘Lizzie’ Byer is her most memorable student, providing an example of a student who was self-described “not smart enough” and science not really being her thing; who, now, after success in three upper level science courses is a mentor tutor for younger Biology students. “Lizzie has proven beyond any doubt that there is no such thing as an ‘honor student’ or ‘dumb student,’ that there are no accurate labels,” Mrs. Roland said.