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Teacher of the Year Blog

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Teacher of the Year Blog
“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” ~A.A. Milne
As I write my last blog post of my reign as HCPS Teacher of the Year (TOY), I find that I am overwhelmed with emotion. Putting my thoughts and feelings into words to adequately describe my experiences this past year is difficult. I am so incredibly GRATEFUL for the opportunities I have had, THANKFUL for the relationships that I have built, and BLESSED to carry these memories, and friendships, with me forever. I am not the same educator, or person, that I was a year ago. I have grown in my understanding of what a true leader looks and sounds like. I have renewed and recharged my passion for this profession. While I have never been a quiet person, I discovered a different voice hidden within me and I learned how to use it in powerful and productive ways to give back to this amazing profession.
 I want to congratulate the new TOY, Ashley Gereli. Her energy, passion and enthusiasm are contagious! I cannot wait to work alongside her and the finalist team. I know they will do remarkable things. I look forward to continuing the work that we started as a team. My friends, colleagues, and teammates on 5XStronger continue to inspire me with their passion and creativity. We have a lot more to offer in our roles and we are excited to continue. I asked each of them to share a few words below about their experiences this year. Once again, thank you for the incredible honor of being your 2021 TOY. In the words of my predecessors, “It’s not goodbye, it’s see you later!”

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Description automatically generated with medium confidenceKelly Ackley
Being a Teacher of the Year Finalist was a nomination to which I was nervous to say “yes,” an experience I never, ever expected, and a year that I would not change one bit. In a time that has proven exceptionally challenging, being part of “5 X Stronger” was the push that I did not know I needed.
Lauren, Kim, Kerri, and Sarah inspire me. Thanks to their stories and examples, I am reminded to love my kids extra hard. I have also felt encouraged to break out of my comfort zone to try new things and take on new roles. We have a common goal to support teachers and to recognize them for the amazing human beings that they are. The absolute best part of my year has been the “Teacher Tour.”  Surprising teachers who were recognized for their excellence, which so often goes without recognition, was such an honor. I especially loved seeing the reactions of the students- the ones lucky enough to spend each day in the classrooms of such outstanding educators. The students’ faces only solidified that the right teacher was selected for the award!
I also loved sharing stories with new teachers in our campfire at Harford Glen. The beginning of a new teaching career is hard, and time together to laugh, cry, and support each other is invaluable.
I look forward to continuing our group’s work in supporting new teachers and spotlighting outstanding ones. I cannot wait to hear the ideas of the new Teacher of the Year group and encourage them on this journey.

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Kerrie Bauer
Harford County teachers have experienced many challenges since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers have had to work hard while stretching and growing as a collective group. We were pushed to embrace new technology, creating new ways for us to engage our students in a flexible environment. I am so humbled to have been recognized during this challenging time by administration, peers, parents, and students as a 2021 Teacher of the Year finalist. It is an honor to know that your hard work is making positive impacts on the people around you. The Teacher of the Year journey has afforded me opportunities to collaborate with so many inspiring educators in Harford County. It has been a pleasure to work with the 5xStronger team. Lauren, Kelly, Kim, and Sarah are strong, inspiring teachers, representing all grade levels in education. Collaborating on meetings with Dr. Davis, Ms. Tarbert, Ms. Kutcher, Ms. Wall, and so many others have been rewarding. The support and encouragement that has surrounded our team is incredible. Our journey began with a short video, filmed at Harford Glen, introducing our team. We were happy to include many staff, students, and families in our “Stronger” video, as we all had to find ways to be stronger that year. The kickoff to the 2021 school year gave us the opportunity to share our stories of encouragement with new teachers. Mr. Eakes, of Harford Glen, continued to support our team as we organized our “S’mores” event for new teachers. This was a valuable chance for new teachers to finally meet in-person and collaborate with peers. The Teacher Tour kicked off in 2022 and we have been able to recognize hundreds of nominated HCPS staff. I am honored to be able to celebrate all the amazing teachers in our county! This experience has reminded me of the importance of building relationships, collaborating with peers, and celebrating success. I am looking forward to continuing this journey!

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Description automatically generatedKim Perouty
Being recognized as a Teacher of the Year Finalist has been an honor and a privilege.  The range of emotions started the day that I was nominated until the event when the Teacher of the Year was named and has continued to the present day. I am only here because of all the people I have worked with during my 28 years. Each student, teammate, parent, and administrator has helped me to become the teacher I am today. As a member of 5xStronger, I have been able to collaborate and learn from Kelly, Kerrie, Lauren, and Sarah.  We have had the chance to meet with members of central office staff and speak on behalf of our fellow teachers.  As part of our focus, we wanted to highlight the positive things that are going on in our schools and provide opportunities for teachers to support one another.  One of my favorite memories was when we hosted new teachers at Harford Glen.  It was the first face-to-face encounter that many of us had attended in a long time.  I loved watching the teachers encourage one another as they shared stories and enjoyed the campfire.  Another moment that I will treasure is when we were able to surprise a teacher in her classroom as we presented her with her “Teacher Tour” award.  Watching the surprise on her face and seeing her with her students was a true gift.  I am incredibly grateful for being a part of this team and I look forward to following the next group of finalists as they begin their journey. 

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Description automatically generated with low confidenceSarah Scholl
Connecting with and celebrating other teachers has been such a wonderful part of being in the Teacher of the Year Finalist Group for the 2021 – 2022 school year. Meeting with new teachers to share stories and build community was one of my favorite events that we were a part of this year. It was so nice to connect in person and reassure the participants that teaching is hard and wonderful, sometimes all at once. I am also extremely grateful for the experience working with Lauren, Kelly, Kerrie, and Kim. Hearing their perspectives, sharing ideas, and working together has truly made us more than just a team, but a group of friends I know I can rely on and turn to if I needed anything. Best of luck to the new group of finalists, I cannot wait to see what you bring to HCPS!