It’s that time of year again when we introduce you to the teachers who were nominated for The Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award. Read about the first group of nominees we highlighted last week.
The Washington Post award recognizes excellence in teaching and encourages creative and quality instruction. Earlier this year, each ACPS principal chose one teacher from their school to move forward to the ACPS finalist round based on nominations from parents, students and colleagues. One of the finalists is then selected as the ACPS Teacher of the Year and the division nominee for The Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award.
Last year, ACPS was delighted to recognize Laura Koss, Matthew Maury Elementary School’s music teacher, as our selection.
This year’s winner will be announced in April. Please congratulate these special teachers when you see them!
Second Grade Teacher
Charles Barrett Elementary School
Kara Cashwell has been with ACPS since 2011, the last six of which have been with Charles Barrett. She is certified in arts integration by the John F. Kennedy Center’s Changing Education through the Arts (CETA) program, is a member of the CETA Strategic Planning Committee and co-plans the annual CETA Night event. Cashwell has also co-presented division-wide professional learning, represents Barrett in the K-2 Math Leaders Cohort and has served as a teacher mentor.
Ms. Cashwell’s classroom is filled with learners of all different needs, including a high percentage of students with special education needs. Ms. Cashwell readily applies her vast knowledge of differentiation, arts integration, balanced literacy and guided math to ensure that all of her students make substantial progress each year towards their individual goals. Parents describe Ms. Cashwell as passionate, empathetic, and deeply caring. Ms. Cashwell is a valued member of our CETA leadership committee at the school level, and also serves as a model arts integration teacher for school visitors.”
Second Grade Teacher
George Mason Elementary School
Marci El-Baba launched her teaching career at George Mason 29 years ago! El-Baba is a member of the ACPS Literacy Leadership Cadre and a member of George Mason’s Faculty Council. She has also served on the Superintendent’s Health Advisory Board, has mentored new teachers and supervised student teachers, and has been a guest lecturer at George Mason University. She has also co-written, produced and narrated a documentary for language arts teachers and media specialists in ACPS. Her work has been referenced in several publications.
Ms. El-Baba is one of the great artists of the teaching profession because of her genuine interest in and love for her students as individuals. She works tirelessly to ensure the academic, social and emotional readiness of each of her students by creating a challenging and enriching environment in the context of a nurturing, loving classroom. One parent wrote, ‘Students know how much she cares and they work harder, listen better, and dream bigger when they are in her classroom.’ The authentic activities she designs and create inspire both her students and her colleagues. As a master teacher, she is sought out for her expertise and eagerly provides resources and serves as a model for other teachers.”
Second Grade Teacher
Matthew Maury Elementary School
Meredith Forbes is homegrown! She attended Charles Barrett Elementary School, George Washington Middle School and graduated from T.C. Williams. At Maury, she serves on the leadership committee, the Positive Behavior and Interventions Support (PBIS) team and the School Education Plan Committee. She also coordinates the Maury Scholars program, which identifies and nurtures academic and personal potential in students from historically underrepresented groups.
Meredith is representative of a new generation of educational leaders who are strengthening the educational paradigm in Alexandria’s public schools. She brings an enthusiasm and commitment to evidence-based education that offers pathways of success for all students. Meredith is passionate about ensuring all students have access to high-quality education and a safe and inclusive learning environment. She works relentlessly to ensure that all her students have opportunities to succeed, be challenged, and know they are loved.
Fifth Grade Teacher
Lyles-Crouch Traditional Academy (LCTA)
Laura Murphy joined ACPS and Lyles-Crouch in 2013, after teaching for seven years in the Bronx, NY. She transitioned to teaching from a career in business. She has participated in the Technology Leadership Project, is the school’s Technology Committee leader and is a member of the Professional Learning Communities Leadership Team. She has also served as grade-level chairperson, as a mentor for ACPS teachers and is the coach for Girls on the Run.
Ms. Murphy expertly weaves LCTA’s Core Knowledge curriculum material into the state standards giving our students a uniquely integrated understanding of the subject matter. Her coordination with other fifth grade teachers creates a team that consistently reviews and implements recommended practices best suited for the students in each class. Her classroom is inviting and is organized in a manner that creates an exceptional educational environment. This not only creates an orderly classroom, but it also creates a classroom that facilitates idea origination and then the sharing of those ideas. Laura is able to use this environment to individually tailor activities for each child while still incorporating meaningful group experiences.”