Teacher, gifted students challenging each other

December 01, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Editor's note: This is the third in a monthly series highlighting excellent educators in Washington County elementary schools. Next month: Fountaindale Elementary.

Dealing with gifted and talented students on a daily basis keeps Emma K. Doub School for Integrated Arts and Technology Quest teacher Marisa Hoyle on her toes, but it's a challenge she embraces.

"I like to hear what they have to say," she said. "They have a different view and their own opinion."

Hoyle, who's been a Quest teacher in Washington County Public Schools for 11 years, said working at Emma K. Doub, which houses a gifted and talented magnet program, forces her to work with the top tier of an already top-notch student population.

Hoyle said she never tells her students how advanced they are, hoping to force the intelligent children to keep pushing themselves.


"Every student has their own gifts and talents," she said. It's her job to find where her students are and to push them beyond their limits, she said.

Hoyle, who worked as a teacher for four years before taking a break to raise three children and start a day-care center, said she has wanted to be a teacher since she was very little and watched her mother teach.

She's been fulfilling that dream for the past 11 years in Washington County, starting out in the same gifted and talented capacity as a Project Challenge teacher.

"I fear there's quite a few (students) whose intelligence level quite surpasses what I can do," she said.

Aside from working with a core gifted and talented group, Hoyle said she takes in students who are talented in a given subject and whose teachers recommend they receive extra work in that area.

On this day, Hoyle worked with such a group whose task was to create a research folder on a decade within the 20th century.

Students leafed through booklets on each of their assigned decades and were asked to pull out facts that they wanted to learn more about.

One student, researching the 1980s, said she wanted to learn more about the Cabbage Patch Kids fad. Another child said, "I want to know everything about Bill Cosby and 'The Cosby Show.'"

"At this age they get so excited about so many things," Hoyle said.

There's a lesson there for Hoyle, she said. Her students teach her that learning is never boring.

On top of teaching more advanced students, Hoyle said she coordinates the school's annual geography bee, helps with the annual 24 math game and advises the school's broadcast news station, WEKD.

She also has started a pilot Quest program at Doub's sister school, Funkstown School for Early Childhood Education, which serves students in pre-kindergarten through first grade.

Her only complaint, she said, is that she doesn't get to spend enough time with her students.

She said she doesn't exempt her special students from homework, which forces her to take work home with her, too.

"All research doesn't stay contained in my classroom," she said.

Her family makes fun of her because she brings home ideas for her elementary-aged students and asks her grown children to put her ideas to the test, she said.

"I have to stay one step ahead of them," she said.

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