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 fifth 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!
For the past seven years, Shannon Evans has been a first grade teacher at Matthew Maury Elementary School, where she launched her career as an educator. As a teacher in ACPS, Evans has returned to her roots as a homegrown product of Alexandria City Public Schools.
Evans is highly engaged in her school, serving as the chairperson of the Leadership Committee for the past five years and also serving on the Social Studies, Math, Progress Report, Reading Task Force, TAG Referral, PBIS and Professional Learning committees. Evans is the first grade team lead and mentors new teachers and student teachers.
Evans’ efforts to bridge the gap between school and home abound. In addition to leading after school clubs and tutoring students, she has served as the Parent Involvement Liaison for last two years, more than doubling parent attendance within her first year. Evans extends her reach deep into the community, going well above and beyond expectations by identifying student needs and helping to address them, even outside of school hours, as she did in helping several students-in-need obtain eye glasses and conducting home visits. She continually seeks out new and innovative ways to involve parents by meeting them where they are, through Family Involvement Nights in local neighborhoods and reading nights at local recreation departments outside of the traditional classroom.
With her keen relationship building skills with students, colleague and parents, and her calm, caring and structured ways, she supports students and their families, continually reinventing new strategies and approaches to help her students love learning.
It is said that a Master Teacher recognizes that the education process is more than sharing content. It’s about creating independent learners who have the critical thinking skills to grow and thrive. They put their students first and adapt their curriculum to their learners’ needs. Ms. Shannon Evans is that kind of teacher.” – Lisa Falleroni, School Counselor, Matthew Maury Elementary School
Katherine “Elizabeth” Hwang, a second grade teacher at William Ramsay Elementary School has been an educator for 10 years, the past four of which have been with ACPS.
Hwang’s background working with diverse student populations with a broad spectrum of needs in New York City and Washington, DC provided her invaluable experience that has enriched her teaching here at ACPS. Hwang, described by her colleagues as creative, engaging, compassionate and collaborative, is highly adaptable with students and colleagues alike. She takes what students already know and incorporates it into their learning, highlighting the value of their prior knowledge in a genuine and empowering way that inspires them to learn more. Hwang sets expectations, provides support and gives immediate feedback to encourage independent work.
Hwang is the team leader for second grade, is a member of Curriculum and Advisory Team, the Title I Leadership team and is a liaison between grade-level teachers and the administration of the Faculty Council. She also provides remediation in math and reading by tutoring during extended learning.
Ms. Hwang is patient, nurturing, consistent educator that holds her students accountable for their learning and celebrates their success. She always takes her students diverse backgrounds, readiness levels, and experience into account when planning her instruction and never allows limited previous academic experience or success to stand in the way of their achievement in her classroom” said one of her nominees.
Ra’ Alim Shabazz, who teaches 12th-grade U.S. and Virginia Government at T.C. Williams, has been an educator for 21 years, the past 10 of which have been with ACPS. Shabazz also teaches a special advanced competition based on a section of the U.S. Government course, “We the People.”
His commitment to education extends beyond the walls of his classroom. Shabazz is active in the Educational Association of Alexandria, Co-sponsor of the Minority Student Achievement Network, Chair of the Black History Assembly, and helps to coordinate the Black History Month Program. He eagerly lends himself to causes within the school and the community that advance learning, cultural competence and awareness. He is known for his deep commitment and involvement in civic engagement and community service and advocates for his students to do the same. He serves as a mentor and guide to his student both in the classroom and out, creating a safe and comfortable space for students.
Mr. Shabazz is an instructor that captures the attention of every student, everyday with every lesson. When you walk into his classroom, you will be amazed at the level of concentration from his students as they hang on his every word. He has developed a level of respect that comes from hours of planning, listening to students and teaching lessons the way they learn.” said Shawn Thorpe, Academic Principal at T.C. Williams High School.
“As I struggled in those early days to find a rhythm to my classes and a distinct teaching identity, Mr. Shabazz told me, “your class must be an experience.” A classroom should not just be a hollow recitation of facts, but a living and dynamic laboratory of existence. This, I believe, is the sum total of all that makes Mr. Shabazz the great teacher that he is: his class is a moment, an experience, that no one forgets,” said Benjamin Hammond, TC Williams International Academy, Co-Department Chair for Curriculum and Instruction.