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Washington Co. Tech High instructor named Teacher of the Year

Marjorie Kellman 'gets everyone involved and makes learning fun'

April 28, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Washington County Public Schools 2011 Teacher of the Year Marjorie Kellman, right, is congratulated by fellow Washington County Technical High School staffer Tammy Wilson, left, after Kellman's name was announced by Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan Wednesday night at Fountain Head Country Club.
Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- As a health occupations teacher at Washington County Technical High School, Marjorie Kellman didn't expect to be selected Washington County Teacher of the Year.

"I've always, unfortunately, thought that tech teachers weren't looked at as highly as academic teachers," she said.

That perception was shattered Wednesday night when Washington County Public Schools Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan announced that Kellman had been chosen for the county's top teaching honor.

She was chosen from a field of 47 nominees, which was narrowed to five finalists. All five were honored Wednesday at a banquet at Fountain Head Country Club sponsored by the Hagerstown-Washington County Chamber of Commerce.

Morgan described Kellman as a "career-changer who is leading the way in WCPS's school-to-college-and-career efforts," and Tech High principal Jeff Stouffer described her as "an outstanding teacher who encourages her students to work hard and make a difference in the world."

Students in Kellman's classes learn the medical and nursing skills necessary to practice as nursing assistants certified by the State of Maryland.

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Kellman is also the adviser for Tech High's chapter of SkillsUSA, a national organization for students preparing for careers in technical, skilled and service occupations. In 2009, she was named Maryland SkillsUSA Regional Advisor of the year.

Kellman said that growing up in a family full of teachers, she often was pressed into service to help with tasks like decorating bulletin boards.

"I vowed I'd never be a teacher," she said.

Instead, Kellman went into nursing, then began teaching nursing on a university level before accepting the position at Tech High in 1991.

Despite her roundabout path to the classroom, colleagues said Kellman had found her calling there.

"She truly is an educator," said Myra Binau, Washington County Hospital librarian and a friend of Kellman. "She keeps the kids on the straight-and-narrow, and they respect her."

In some cases, Binau said, Kellman acts as a mother to her students, making sure they do everything they need to do to graduate and ensuring they get their caps and gowns.

Tammy Wilson, a cosmetology teacher at Tech High, said Kellman strikes the right balance between joking around with her students and letting them know she expects professionalism.

"They fear her, but they respect her and love her," Wilson said.

A presentation about Kellman during Wednesday night's program described a typical day in her classroom as a "bustle of activity" with students role-playing patients and nursing assistants, Kellman asking probing questions, and "students' laughter as they react to Mrs. Kellman's quick-witted humor."

An 11th-grade student was quoted in that presentation as saying, "This is the class we all look forward to. Mrs. Kellman gets everyone involved and makes learning fun."

Kellman said some of her proudest moments as a teacher have been taking students who have rarely left their hometowns to travel with her to national conferences, and "kind of opening the world to them."

She said she strives to emulate Feunette Williams, who started the health occupations program at Tech High.

In her acceptance speech, Kellman read a quote from writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe about the "tremendous power" to influence others through one's own approach, mood and response to any given situation.

"To me, that sums it up," Kellman said. "We have to be the people who move others. Whether it's kindergartners or middle schoolers or high schoolers or our peers, we still have to move others, and we need to expect more of them than they think they can give."

Kellman was awarded the use of a car for one year, courtesy of Hagerstown Honda. She will represent Washington County in the Maryland State Teacher of the Year competition.

The other finalists were:

o Karri Ernst, advanced placement government teacher at Boonsboro High School

o Mike Leith, seventh-grade math teacher at Hancock Middle/Senior High School

o Tameron (Tammy) Marriner, kindergarten teacher at Rockland Woods Elementary School

o Lori Uzicanan, art teacher at Potomac Heights Elementary School

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