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Teacher named top rookie

April 21, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

From the start, Salem Avenue Elementary School Principal Vincent G. Spong knew he had something special in first-year teacher Angela Singer.

The 23-year-old Penn State graduate was bright, hard-working and so enthusiastic about teaching, Spong said he felt she was a natural for the county's first-year teacher award.

"She jumped right out and took on extra duties, actually asked to do additional things," said Spong, who was equally impressed with Singer's ability to master difficult concepts then make them understandable to her students.

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Singer, a third-grade teacher at the school, said she was excited when Spong told her he had nominated her for the 13th annual Sallie Mae First Class Teacher Award, which she didn't even know existed.

However, Singer said she didn't expect to be named top first-year teacher in the county, which puts her in the running for the state award, including $1,500 in cash and a weekend in Washington, D.C., for the national recognition ceremony.

"I think it's a great honor to win for the county," said Singer, who got the good news last month.

Still, the real thrill happens each and every school day, said Singer, who feels she found her true vocation as an elementary school teacher.

A 1991 graduate of Waynesboro Senior High School, the State Line, Pa., resident said she was drawn to teaching because she always felt comfortable around children and enjoyed their enthusiasm.

In 1995, she received a bachelor's degree in elementary education.

After working in kindergarten and first grades during a student-teaching stint in York, Pa., substituting in Washington County schools last year, and having her own third-grade class this year, Singer is sure she chose the right educational level.

"Elementary is definitely it for me," said Singer, who likes teaching all the different subjects. "It brings exciting adventures with it every day. No day is like the day before."

Third-graders are a neat group, said Singer, who has 20 students in her home room.

"They have a certain level of independence, but they still need you," she said. "They look up to you. And they want to be your friend."

With so much to cover each day, it never gets monotonous, Singer said.

"This year's just flying," she said. "I never look at the clock to see if it's time to go home. I look to see what's next."

It hasn't always been easy, however.

Her biggest obstacle, she said, was to figure out how to address her students' different needs and learning styles.

Singer said she found her co-workers more than willing to share their experiences and ideas.

And she did a lot of thinking and planning, she said.

She said she decided to make the students part of the solution, by showing them that they each have strengths and weaknesses and giving them the responsibility to pair up accordingly.

There's a lot of cooperative learning in her classroom, she said.

To address special needs, Singer said she also uses guided groups in various subjects.

Coming from a Pennsylvania university, Singer said her biggest learning challenge came from the Maryland State Performance Assessment Program, which first tests students in the third grade.

Though she plans to start taking graduate classes next year, Singer said she has no desire to take her career beyond the classroom.

She suspects those classes might keep her from coaching another Odyssey of the Mind team, something she started as a substitute and continued this year with husband Mark Singer.

Singer said she and her husband also volunteer together as a Big Couple for a local elementary school student.

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