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20 Teachers Cited for Inspiring Children to Learn

Meyer Awards Honor Dedication, Innovation

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 13, 2005; Page B02

Twenty teachers from across the region were given 2005 Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Awards by The Washington Post yesterday in a ceremony that seemed like a seminar on the methods and value of good instruction.

Winners -- one from each of 19 public school systems and one from area private schools -- were chosen by school superintendents on the basis of nominations, many of them made by present and former students and the students' parents.


Johnita G. Jackson, center, an Agnes Meyer award recipient, celebrates with, clockwise from left, Lorrain Fulton, Barbara Eddy and Cathy Allen. (Kevin Clark -- The Washington Post)

Excerpts from the nominations, read at the ceremony by The Post Co.'s chairman, Donald E. Graham, attest to the impact of effective teaching.

For example: Many former students of Michael F. Ahern, a chemistry teacher at Gar-Field High School in Prince William County, go on to major in chemistry in college, and a reason for it, one of them wrote, is the desire "to be just like him."

Ahern is a former Army officer who taught chemistry at West Point. "His enthusiasm for chemistry is contagious," one of his former Gar-Field students said.

Colleen Bernard, who teaches social studies at Frederick County's Urbana High School, taught one of her students something else: that "I can do what I set out to do."

Many of the winning teachers were described as able to make students look forward to classes in subjects with forbidding reputations.

"I miss algebra II," wrote a student who studied it with Nancy L. Hebdon at Paint Branch High School in Montgomery County.

Enticing students to study and learn can be a challenge. But based on the nominations, it seems that the 20 teachers -- innovative, energetic and dedicated -- have found ways to do it.

Of Johnita G. Jackson, an instructional resource teacher at Lettie Marshall Dent Elementary School in St. Mary's County, a supporter wrote: "She is on a mission to teach every child to read."

A parent wrote that for education's sake, Victoria L. Lascomb, of Evergreen Mill Elementary School in Loudoun County, "will go the extra mile, sometimes running." Another parent wrote, "Victoria saved our child."

Winners received a check for $3,000 and a crystal apple. The money "will come in handy," said Helen D. Torosian, a science teacher at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford County. But she said the recognition was what counted. "This is quite special."

The award is named for Graham's grandmother, who was a vigorous advocate for public education.

Other winners, their schools and school systems are: Hortense H. Adams, Deerfield Run Elementary, Prince George's County; Frank T. Kasik III, Manassas Park High, Manassas Park; Bonnie E. Luepkes, Atholton High, Howard County; Logan S. McConnell, Mount Vernon Community, Alexandria; Kaye D. Oliver, Calvert High, Calvert County; Michael A. Rauer, Bishop Ireton High, an independent school; Doris Jean Hurd Savoy, Calvin Coolidge Senior High, District of Columbia; Stephen R. Scholla, Oakton High, Fairfax County; Janice D. Spicknall, Crofton Meadows Elementary, Anne Arundel County; Jennifer D. Thompson, Baldwin Elementary, Manassas; Jane McDaniel Todd, Grace Miller Elementary, Fauquier County; Patricia Tuttle-Newby, Gunston Middle, Arlington County; Trisha A. Volland, Benjamin Stoddert Middle, Charles County; and Mary Jo Webster, Falls Church.


© 2005 The Washington Post Company