The educator named Montgomery County Teacher of the Year will compete for Maryland Teacher of the Year.
The recipients represent diverse backgrounds and earned high praise from colleagues.
Teak Bassett, a social studies teacher at Clarksburg High School, was lauded by school district officials for his thoughtfulness and dedication. Bassett has supervised many student activities, including speech and debate, student government, girls’ lacrosse, junior varsity football and JV softball. He hosts study sessions during lunch and after school. Nearly every student in his AP comparative government and politics class earned a 5 on the AP exam, school district officials said.
Madeline Hanington, an English content specialist and teacher at Hallie Wells Middle School in Clarksburg, also received the award. School district officials described her teaching style as “dynamic, challenging and nurturing.”
Hanington’s academic intervention programs have increased Maryland School Assessment test scores by at least 5 percent, school district officials said. She also sponsors student programs.
“Her lived experience: immigrant parents, poverty, academic success, coupled with her natural traits of caring and dedication, make Ms. Maddy Hanington an exceptional teacher who makes that difference in children’s lives,” Hallie Wells Principal Barbara Woodward said.
Maura Backenstoe, a kindergarten teacher at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda, was the third honoree. “I call her the ‘miracle-working magical unicorn teacher’ because she inspires joy and excellence in every student,” said one parent quoted in the official announcement about the awards.
Backenstoe — known as “Mother Hen” at Burning Tree — teaches nonnative English speakers and kindergartners with special education needs, physical disabilities and sensory and developmental issues. In the past five years, 99 percent of her students have met or exceeded the grade-level reading benchmark.
School district officials said she is widely considered to be the glue that holds her school together.