NEWARK – Worcester County teachers are being recognized for their efforts with a new program designed to celebrate innovative ideas in the classroom.
Worcester County school system officials named 13 teachers as recipients of the new “Celebrating Innovation” awards. The recently implemented program honors school employees for creating practices that increase student achievement.
“What we see exhibited in these projects are outstanding examples of how teachers are using innovative practices to help kids learn,” said Jerry Wilson, superintendent of Worcester County public schools.
Although the school system already recognizes its top teachers with an annual awards banquet, Wilson said he wanted to celebrate inventive and original practices that were helping students learn.
“We’re trying to encourage multiple ways for students to see success,” he said. “Having multiple approaches through innovative spirit is very important.”
Teachers at various county schools were recognized for the unique ways they helped their pupils learn. At Stephen Decatur High School, math teacher Brenda Hommel created a blended classroom, combining a variety of activities, projects and discussions with a Mission Impossible-type theme. Students were tasked with using their algebra skills to save a hypothetical city, solve supposed military dilemmas and the like.
“They were not your traditional math problems,” Hommel said, adding that they were designed to keep students engaged. “It kept them on the edge of their seats.”
Hommel said she knew she had a class full of talented students and wanted to make sure they were being challenged.
“My perspective was these are going to be our leaders, these are going to be our problem solvers,” she said. “At some point, these kids need to learn their potential.”
At Worcester Technical High School, teacher Julia Hill instituted a “flipped classroom” approach with her students when she realized there wasn’t enough time for her to teach an entire lesson and provide time for one-on-one interaction with her. She videotaped her lessons and had students watch them as homework so that when they arrived in class, they were ready to ask questions and put what they had learned to use.
“I had more time with them in class,” Hill said.
Wilson said the new awards program would honor teachers like Hill and Hommel for their efforts and at the same time would give other teachers the chance to see what their peers were doing to increase student achievement. Wilson plans to recognize teachers with “Celebrating Innovation” awards twice during the school year, in February and May.
Along with Hill and Hommel, other teachers recognized were Paul Becker, Pocomoke High School; Joan Brittingham and Kelly Macomber, Pocomoke Middle School; Tom Hamill, Worcester Technical High School; Michelle Hrebik and Ron Knerr, Stephen Decatur Middle School; Bryan Perry, Pocomoke Middle School; Deborah Ritz and Patricia Korpacz, Snow Hill Middle School; Heather Robins, Ocean City Elementary School; and Valerie Ziglejeva, Worcester Technical High School.