Meet the Teachers Nominated for The Washington Post Outstanding Teacher Award

Each year The Washington Post hosts its Outstanding Teacher Award, which honors one teacher from each school division in the Washington Metropolitan Area. Starting this year, one finalist will also be selected as The Washington Post Teacher of the Year.

This is the third in a series of posts in the run up to the announcement of the winner, in which we will be carrying profiles of each school’s nominee. Each of these teachers deserves recognition, just for the fact that they were nominated by their principal, colleagues, students and parents for such a prestigious honor.

Parents, students and colleagues nominated teachers, and each ACPS school principal then chose one nominated teacher from their school to move on to the ACPS finalists round.

Last year, ACPS was delighted to recognize Maria Magallanes, Reading Specialist at Cora Kelly School for Math, Science and Technology, as our ACPS Outstanding Teacher Awardee.

The ACPS winner and the overall winner of The Washington Post Outstanding Teacher Award will be announced in April. Until then, please make sure you congratulate these special teachers when you see them!

Jean Dean

Jean Dean
George Mason Elementary School

Jean Dean, an educator for more than 30 years, joined ACPS in 2002 as a teacher at Mount Vernon Elementary School. She is currently a first grade teacher at George Mason Elementary School, where she’s been teaching for the past ten years. A mentor to new teachers, Dean is also a member of the Faculty Council, the Sunshine Committee and has been the chair of the Volunteer Appreciation Night. Known by her colleagues for talking with her students and not at them, she encourages her students to find their own voice. With her quiet and unassuming ways, patience and sensitivity, she creates an environment where her students feel comfortable sharing their ideas.

“As a second-grade teacher, I have received many students over the years who “graduated” from her classroom. They consistently demonstrate solid content background and maturity in their work habits. Jean conducts her first grade classroom with continuity of high expectations and with joy, as primary learning should be,”  said Marci El-Baba.

“Her enthusiasm and positivity are contagious. Not only does she inspire her students, but she inspires her team as well,” said one of her nominees.

Nicole Demski

Nicole Demski
John Adams Elementary School

Nicole Demski, a fourth grade teacher at John Adams Elementary School, has been with ACPS since 2010. She is known for her nurturing ways, which foster the talents of her students and builds their self-esteem. Demski’s commitment to teaching extends beyond the classroom through the resources and tools she provides to extend the learning environment into the homes of her students. Her dedication and passion for her job are evident in the extra after-school support and tutoring she offers and in her commitment to students who are English Language Learners and make up a third of her classroom.

Demski is currently working on a Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction-Multilingual/Multicultural Education at George Mason University and has twice earned the Kennedy Center’s prestigious Changing Education through the Arts (CETA) certificate.

“Mrs. Demski encourages us to try harder and not give up when we make mistakes. She lets us know that she will help us when we don’t understand something. We feel free to ask questions about our work. She’s so kind. She’s just a teacher you would wish to have,” said a current student.

Sean Murphy

Sean Murphy
Samuel W. Tucker Elementary School

Sean Murphy, “art teacher extraordinaire,” has been with ACPS for the past 25 years and at Samuel Tucker Elementary School since it’s opening in 2001. He launched his career as an art educator at James K. Polk Elementary School in 1991. Murphy is known by his colleagues for building life-long relationships with his students using, for his contagious love of art and for his ability to make art accessible and enjoyable for students with all levels of ability.

Murphy’s contributions as a educator extend far beyond the classroom. In addition to participating in Tucker’s Leadership Team and Faculty Council, he teaches classes at the National Gallery of Art and will be presenting to art teachers from across the nation this March at the National Art Educator’s Association in Chicago.

“A detailed planner, engaging instructor and premiere relationship builder, he truly is among the top tier of all educators I have had the privilege of working alongside in my 33 years as an educator,” said Tucker Principal Rene Paschal.


ACPS, George Mason, John Adams, Tucker