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Three distinguished educators join Harford County Public Schools Hall of Fame during 2023 induction
Linda Chamberlin
40.5 years of service to HCPS (1972-2012)

 Ms. Linda Chamberlin grew up in Fallston, Maryland, and is a proud graduate of Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) having attended Youth’s Benefit Elementary, Bel Air Middle, and Bel Air High schools. Fallston Middle and Fallston High were not yet built then, and she was one of only a few new students at Youth’s Benefit. 

In 1970, Ms. Chamberlin graduated from Beaver College (now known as Arcadia University) in Glenside, Pennsylvania, with a Bachelor of Arts in English.  She received her master’s degree in education from Goucher College in 1972, and she went on to earn her thirty credits beyond her master’s for a certificate in administration from Loyola University.  Ms. Chamberlin also graduated from the Harford Leadership Academy.  Through the National Association of Elementary School Principals (NAESP), she earned certification to be a mentor to new administrators, which she would do later in retirement.

In college, Ms. Chamberlin never considered being a teacher.  However, after she became a teacher, her mother showed her an essay she wrote in middle school saying she planned to be a teacher! Ms. Chamberlin was hired as a fourth-grade teacher in February 1972 to teach at Homestead/Wakefield Elementary. She taught there for 13 years before being appointed assistant principal at Bakerfield Elementary in 1985.  She was a teaching assistant principal and taught her fourth-grade class in the afternoon. In 1987, Ms. Chamberlin was appointed a full-time assistant principal at Youth’s Benefit Elementary for the Primary Building. In 1990, she was named principal of Forest Hill Elementary and served in that position until 1995 when she was asked to plan and open a new school, Forest Lakes Elementary. Ms. Chamberlin was principal there until 2009 when she was promoted to Executive Director of Elementary Schools. She retired from that position in 2012.

Watching the “light bulbs” go off when students finally understood what she was teaching were some of Ms. Chamberlin’s most wonderful moments in teaching. She wanted her students to enjoy learning, and she wrote her tests so that everyone would know the answers to the first set of questions so they would feel confident and not get discouraged. She loved seeing a child’s confidence grow as a student. She was passionate about reviewing projects and lesson plans though a lens that asked, “Is it good for kids; will they learn something?” That’s a question she always asked her faculty when they discussed programs and initiatives for their school. It has also been very rewarding for her to know several of her students have become teachers and reconnected with her as adults.

As a teacher in the system, Ms. Chamberlin worked on many curriculum development committees. She taught summer school and was co-director of a summer program for gifted and talented students. During her career, she was very involved with the Harford County Administrators Association as the secretary and president. In the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals, she served as the newsletter editor, secretary, president, and Maryland representative to the NAESP.  She was honored to be elected to the Board of Directors of the NAESP. Ms. Chamberlin represented administrators from Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and the District of Columbia, and advocated for elementary education and principals with congressional leaders. This role was an amazing experience for her working alongside principals from across the United States for four years.  During this time, she attended an international conference in Nice, France, representing American school leaders. Opening a new school at Forest Lakes and serving on the Board for NAESP were the highlights of Ms. Chamberlin’s career.

In her community, she served on the Vestry of Christ Church and was the secretary of Harford Family House during its beginning years.

In 2012, Ms. Chamberlin retired after 40 years of service to HCPS. Her decision to retire was not an easy one as she loved working in education.  But she and her sister were taking care of her mother who was 93 at time, and she wanted to be able spend more time with her mom who passed away at 98.

Ms. Chamberlin is part of a yarn guild at her church. They knit or crochet hats, mittens, scarves, prayer shawls, blankets, and arm warmers that are donated to local schools and hospice centers. She’s also president of the Harford County Retired School Personnel Association, a large group made up hundreds of members who have worked for HCPS in many different capacities. Ms. Chamberlin is an avid reader who sets a goal to read more than 100 books a year.  She’s also proud to be grandmother to four wonderful grandchildren and loves spending time with them and watching them grow. She and her husband enjoy spending time at their vacation home in Mt Gretna, Pennsylvania.

        

 

Belinda Cole
39 years of service to HCPS (1971-2010)

 Even though she was born in southern Indiana, Ms. Belinda Cole considers herself a Harford Countian, as she moved to Bel Air in 1958. Her father was transferred from Jefferson Proving Ground to Aberdeen when she was to begin fourth grade. She went to Bel Air Elementary, Wakefield, the new Bel Air Junior High, and graduated from Bel Air High School.

Ms. Cole attended University of Florida, Harford Community College, Loyola, and Towson State University (TSU). She received her bachelor’s in Early Childhood Education in 1975, her master’s in Instructional Technology in 1980, and her 30 hours beyond with certification as an Administrator in 1985.

Ms. Cole’s paternal grandfather was a teacher and principal for a one-room school in Indiana, and her maternal grandmother taught elementary school in a small county school in Indiana as well.  However, it was Mary Berry, the librarian of Hickory Elementary School, who was probably the most influential force that moved her toward teaching.  Ms. Cole was her summer secretary in 1965, and her library technician in the early ‘70s while attending TSU part time and raising a family. Ms. Berry convinced her that she was a natural with children and should pursue a degree in education, not physical therapy as she had initially planned.

For the past six decades, Ms. Cole has been a student, parent, employee, and now retiree of Harford County Public Schools. She began her official teaching career at Churchville Elementary School in 1975, teaching first grade, but had been at Hickory Elementary in the library since 1971.  When the school lost enrollment, Ms. Cole was transferred to Highland Elementary, and when it closed, she went on to open the new North Harford Elementary. Obtaining her master’s degree gave her the opportunity to become the media specialist at Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary in 1985. She then went to Magnolia Elementary as a part time assistant principal and reading teacher. In 1989, she was assigned as principal to Darlington Elementary, and in 1991, moved to Bel Air Elementary where she had first attended school as a fourth grader (although it was a different building then). In 2000, Ms. Cole was asked to open the new Forest Hill Elementary, and it is from there that she retired in 2010.  The decision to retire was a tough one as her school community was her family, but she felt it was time to surrender to the next generation and their technological skills.

During her career, Ms. Cole presented on behalf of the Research for Better Schools program, was president of the Harford County Reading Council, and served as an evaluator for the MD Assessment Center for administrators. Ms. Cole was a member of various systemwide committees, sat on the executive boards of the Maryland Association of Elementary School Principals and the Harford County Elementary School Principals Association, and currently serves as vice president of the Harford County Retired School Personnel Association.

When thinking about her passion and proud moments, people are at the top of her list. Not only the people young and old that she served, but the ones who shared so much to enrich her life. Ms. Cole loved ensuring each elementary school had a rocking chair, establishing environmental classrooms, implementing all-inclusive settings, creating a Pre-K program, and implementing a center for the hearing-impaired.  They were all important, but building Forest Hill Elementary from the ground up was the highlight of Ms. Cole’s career. Guiding the students, teachers, and parents into a successful learning community was so rewarding. Because they believed that caring leads to excellence, the Forest Hill community became a family focused on “what’s best for kids.” As Forest Hill Retrievers, they even had their own live therapy dog, Mollie.  This passion for people -- not just programs -- was Ms. Cole’s driving force. She recognized that people don’t really care what you know until they know how much you care, which is critical in establishing and maintaining a productive learning and teaching environment.

In retirement, she and her husband have golfed in all 50 states, one of their bucket list goals. Ms. Cole spends her days cooking, reading, walking the trail, and traveling to visit her son and his family in Colorado.

        

 

Joy Richardson
51 years of service to HCPS (1968-2019)

 Ms. Joy Richardson was born and raised in Baltimore City. She attended Sacred Heart of Mary Parochial School through 8th grade and went on to attend Patterson High School and graduate first in her class in 1964. Ms. Richardson grew up in family with strong educational values, and she worked hard and knew what was expected of her.

Ms. Richardson enjoyed studying and learning from a young age.  She was a voracious reader and liked “playing school” and just couldn’t imagine school ending after 12 years. Her mother was a stay-at-home mom, and her father was often laid off or on strike from Bethlehem Steel—times were often quite tough financially. She was determined to have a career that would keep her from experiencing desperate straits in the future. Her seventeen-year-old-self thought that there would always be a need for teachers. Nobody in her family, even in her extended family, had graduated from college, so she was being quite adventurous and determined at the time.

Ms. Richardson attended college at Frostburg State University on scholarships. As a freshman at Frostburg State College, Ms. Richardson was a math major, thinking she would enjoy teaching secondary school mathematics. Halfway through her sophomore year, she switched to Early Childhood—known then as Kindergarten/Primary. Later, she attended John’s Hopkins University, taking evening and summer classes until she graduated with her master’s in 1973. Ms. Richardson continued to study at Loyola College to earn her master’s +30.

Ms. Richardson met her husband while at Frostburg State University, and they dated through their four years of college.  During Christmas break of their senior year, they decided to visit some counties near Baltimore. They thought that Harford County seemed like a nice rural area, and they interviewed with C. Clark Jones who accepted their applications and sent them off to visit some schools. When they returned to his office, they were offered jobs.

In 1968-69, Ms. Richardson began her career with Harford County Public Schools teaching Kindergarten at Hall’s Cross Roads Elementary School. After being “riffed,” she moved across town to Hillsdale Elementary School, also in Aberdeen, where she taught kindergarten for 43 more years. For the 2012-13 school year, she was asked to move to prekindergarten and taught that grade for seven years. Ms. Richardson enjoyed a total of 51 years as an early childhood educator, with 50 of those being at her beloved Hillsdale school. She enjoyed half-day kindergarten, and when the system moved to full day kindergarten, she wondered what she would do with one group of children for a full day. After a few weeks, she wondered how she ever managed to get it all in with only a half-day for all those years!

Ms. Richardson’s move to prekindergarten was a new blessing. Back again to half-days, she was able to work with 40 little ones every day. She always felt there was a real advantage to teaching two sessions.  If a lesson didn’t go quite as she had planned in the morning, she had time to adjust and reteach it better for the afternoon class. A lot of people have asked her over the years why she never asked for a transfer to go to a different area, but she loved her kids at Hillsdale. She taught three generations of many families, and they developed a mutual sense of respect and appreciation. Her husband taught his whole career at Aberdeen High School, and he felt the same.

What Ms. Richardson enjoyed most about teaching were the children. She loved watching the light come on in their eyes as they understood a concept or learned a new word or math fact. She loved stretching the children intellectually as far as they could go, each one at his/her own pace. She loved seeing the pride in the children’s eyes and the amazement in their parents’. She cherished the love that was shared among and between all her little ones and her. Ms. Richardson really enjoyed singing with her students every day and she so enjoyed the literature that she shared with them. Every year, her classes raised Monarch butterflies from eggs. The students researched and understood metamorphosis. As they released the new butterflies, they would wave to them and announce, “Have a good trip to Mexico!” because they knew about the route on the East Coast that Monarchs take every fall. Each year, students from grades one through five would stop in to check on that year’s butterflies.  Ms. Richardson loved being able to give her students that positive, lasting memory.

During her career, Ms. Richardson’s first goal was to be the best teacher she could be for her students, and she constantly worked to do that. She always tried to stay current with the newest best practices. She embraced the Charlotte Danielson model and dove right into it. In addition, she liked to keep current in the overall life of the school, so she served on the School Performance and Achievement Team for most of her years as a teacher. When it existed, she served on the Superintendent’s Advisory Committee for Elementary School for many years. She enjoyed mentoring new teachers and mentored Harford Community College students during most semesters, as well as student teachers from Towson University and Notre Dame of Maryland University. Since she also taught an undergraduate as well as a graduate course (Early Childhood Curriculum and Methods) at Notre Dame for approximately 14 years, her classroom was always open for visitors. Additionally, she hosted teachers, along with their principals and/or supervisors, who came to observe lessons in reading, mathematics and particularly writing.

Ms. Richardson is proud of the fact that she joined her school PTA/PTO each year and attended every meeting unless she was teaching an evening class at Notre Dame. She also joined the Harford County Reading Council every year and was, and still is, a member of the Teachers as Readers Book Club. Ms. Richardson was involved in many projects and initiatives throughout her career.  She worked with Dr. Ginger Eckroade to develop the Kindergarten Performance Assessment (KPA). She created the Kindergarten Curriculum and Assessments for the Kindergarten Summer School Program, and she created the reading comprehension parts of the assessment used for Early Entrance to Kindergarten (EEK) and Advanced Placement to First Grade (AP1st).  On a more personal note, during the last ten years of her career, she worked with her children to teach them to sing a collection of patriotic songs for a Veterans’ Day program. They worked so hard to learn the words and melodies, and they even learned to sign the words to God Bless America as they sang it.  On the Sunday closest to Veterans Day, the families dressed their children in red, white, and blue and drove them to the Abingdon Elks so that their little ones could perform for the disabled veterans from Perry Point VA Hospital. The ELKS provided a Veterans Day celebration for these men and women by bringing them by bus for dinner and entertainment. It was heartwarming to see the room filled with Veterans and her Aberdeen families as their brave little four- and five-year-olds marched to the front to sing. Particularly emotional was watching them sing Proud to be an American with enthusiasm and then walk into the audience to hand out American flags to the Veterans. It was a great way to instill a love of country and develop a sense of patriotism while performing community service.

Throughout the years as Ms. Richardson watched other teachers leave their classrooms to become administrators, but she knew she was right where she belonged.  By staying in the same school throughout her career and teaching three generations, she was able to provide an anchor between the school and the community and have a positive impact on thousands of lives.

Twice Ms. Richardson was nominated and was a top-ten finalist for Harford County’s Teacher of the Year. In 2015, she received the first place Golden Apple Educator Award from Freedom Federal Credit Union.

In 2019, Ms. Richardson decided to retire.  She still loved her job, was 72 years old and in good health.  She and her husband planned to retire together to travel more often.  In addition to traveling, Ms. Richardson enjoys crocheting baby Afghans, reading, quilting, and hiking.  She also takes ballroom dance lessons.  Ms. Richardson has a son and a daughter, as well as four grandchildren.