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Teachers deserve our thanks, praise

April 27, 2012

How is a teacher supposed to hold kids’ attention in these days of slapdash diversions and limited attention spans? Why, you dress up in a banana costume, of course.

At least that’s one of what we suspect are many ways Boonsboro second-grade teacher Christina Hammer-Atkins is able to keep her audience riveted.

For her efforts, Hammer-Atkins was named Washington County Teacher of the Year this week, which, big picture, is probably one of the most important awards a county can give.

The other finalists included Allen Haines of Boonsboro Middle, Sally Irwin of Washington County Technical High, Heather McEndree of Western Heights Middle and Katie Rubeck of Rockland Woods Elementary.

Schools Superintendent Clayton Wilcox recalled the banana episode Wednesday at an awards banquet at Fountain Head Country Club, as an example of the creativity Hammer-Atkins brings to the classroom. It is “important to get the kids’ attention to help them understand the lesson,” he said. “The young people in (her) classroom just hang on her every word.”

Hammer-Atkins is a 17-year educational veteran, having spent the last seven years in Washington County. Characteristic of past winners, Hammer-Atkins said the honor is less an individual award, but rather a recognition of all the good work teachers are doing every day throughout the system. “I feel that I only represent one of many, many fabulous teachers in Washington County. ... It’s a very humbling honor,” she said.

As such, we salute Hammer-Atkins specifically, and all teachers throughout Washington County generally. We know they don’t go into the classroom each morning with an eye on winning awards; they go into the classroom each morning to do all they can to prepare their students for life.

It is not an easy job. But certainly, done right, there can be no more rewarding job. We all remember the teachers who have had an impact on our lives and whose guidance helped shape us into the citizens we are today.

We thank Hammer-Atkins and all her fellows for accepting this challenge and this trust. Perhaps one day our society and our children will come to recognize the importance of the classroom to the degree than banana suits are no longer necessary. Or maybe not. Either way, we appreciate that there are men and women out there who are willing to do whatever it takes to give young people their best chance at success in this world.

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