National Title Goes To Md. Teacher

By Lori Aratani
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Last fall it was a new car, $5,000 and a giant silver cup. Come tomorrow it will be a visit to the White House, complete with presidential greeting in a Rose Garden ceremony.

Who says teaching doesn't pay?

It has paid off -- not just in money and prizes but in personal satisfaction -- for Kimberly Oliver, a kindergarten teacher at Broad Acres Elementary School in Silver Spring, who has been named the 2006 National Teacher of the Year.

The choice of Oliver, the first educator from Maryland to win the national honor, marks the second year that a Washington-area teacher has won the national competition. The 2005 Teacher of the Year was Jason Kamras, who taught mathematics at John Philip Sousa Middle School in the District.

"It is an honor to serve as the Maryland Teacher of the Year, and now as the National Teacher of the Year, representing the teaching profession," Oliver said in a statement. She said she was "already an advocate for children and teachers" and, "given this unbelievable opportunity, I hope to emphasize the importance of early childhood education."

Oliver is a Delaware native who has been teaching kindergarten for six years. She will receive her official award from President Bush at a Rose Garden ceremony tomorrow. The celebration also will honor teachers of the year from all U.S. states and territories.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich is slated to issue a proclamation declaring May 1 as "Kimberly Oliver Day" in Maryland.

"Kimberly Oliver stands as a symbol of excellence in teaching and is a model for those who teach or who desire to make a difference in our children's present and future," Ehrlich said.

Yesterday, Oliver's co-workers and bosses in Montgomery County were thrilled as news of her selection began to circulate throughout the 139,000-student system.

"There's a quality that can't be measured in this profession -- one that makes it the art form that it really is," said her boss, Montgomery County schools chief Jerry D. Weast. "And Kim has that quality -- of doing the right thing at the right time in the right way, of making every child feel special. And she does it all without lowering expectations."

The National Teacher of the Year program, which began in 1952, is the oldest national honors program that recognizes teaching excellence. A 14-member committee, including representatives from many major education organizations, chooses the recipient. The program, presented by the ING Foundation, is a project of the Council of Chief State School Officers and is sponsored by Scholastic Inc.

Although it's been a few years, Linda Randall, the Reading Recovery teacher leader at Broad Acres, remembers the first time she observed Oliver at work in the classroom.

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