By Maya Pottiger
After one year of teaching, David Britton landed his dream job: a research coordinator at National Geographic.
“I thought that was going to be the dream job because I’m very much into environmentalism; I’m very much into geography; I’m very much into outdoor experiences,” Britton said. “After two years of doing that, I was so bored. I missed the constant rush and excitement of working with kids.”
Britton returned to teaching, which he has now been doing for 18 years, and is currently a sixth-grade social studies teacher at Magothy River Middle School.
This year, Britton is a semifinalist for Teacher of the Year. He described the honor as “humbling.”
“There are days where you feel like you’re not the best teacher. That’s one of the things that’s great about teaching: There are days where you feel like you’ve somewhat failed,” Britton said. “By getting that recognition of long-term success over 18 years, it’s incredible.”
Britton has received a number of previous honors: National Board Certification, Exceptional Needs Specialist and other awards around the school, including Teacher of the Month.
“As I visit classrooms throughout the day, it is always a pleasure to stop by Mr. Britton’s class because I know I am going to learn an interesting fact, hear a great story about important figures in history or discover what character he has decided to embody to make history become relevant and alive for his students,” said Nuria Williams, principal of Magothy River Middle School.
Prior to teaching social studies, Britton was a special education teacher for 10 years.
“I think the thing that continually draws me to teaching is it is constantly changing and incredibly challenging,” Britton said. “One of the things that keeps me going with it is you never master it. It is a consistent challenge every day. In a class of 30 kids, you’re never going to have a perfect day from everybody.”
In the classroom, Britton’s philosophy is to maximize engagement.
“You have to make your classroom as engaging as you possibly can because there’s such a competition in students’ brains now for what I’m going to connect into and what I’m not going to connect into,” Britton said. “If you don’t grab them, whether that be through personal relationships or through what you do in your classroom to make the topic interesting or the way you present it interesting, it’s very difficult.”
Britton is active in the Magothy River school community, specifically with the Carson Scholar program and Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS). The Carson Scholar program awards scholarship money to two students each year who are not just academically successful, but are also involved with community service. PBIS promotes ways to encourage positive behaviors throughout the school, such as with Polar Bear Plunge.
“Teaching is an incredibly demanding occupation; I would be the first one to admit that,” Britton said. “To be recognized for all of the hard work that you’ve put into it is really exhilarating. It’s amazing.”
All of the semifinalists will be honored at the Excellence in Education Awards dinner at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum on April 25.