During Stacey Coppock’s senior year of high school, her guidance counselor asked her to be an aide for a special education class.
“My role was to assist students with life skills, but in the end, they taught me what I wanted to do with my life,” said Coppock, a fifth-grade teacher at Folger McKinsey Elementary who is now one of 10 semifinalists for Teacher of the Year.
Another finalist is Charlene Beyerlein, a music educator at Jones Elementary.
“I’ve always known I would be a teacher but chose music because it lets me teach students group collaboration, public speaking and communication skills,” said Beyerlein. “Developing these skills is crucial for students as they grow and enter the workforce.
“Being a teacher is part of who I am, while music is what gives students a voice when they feel they don’t have one,” she added. “Growing up is not easy for our children, and music is an avenue to challenge students to grow while learning to express themselves.”
Jones Elementary Principal Pat Keffer called Beyerlein “the consummate professional educator.”
“Mrs. Beyerlein brings the joys of learning and of community to all students, staff and families,” said Keffer. “Her respect for each individual child comes through in each lesson and interaction as she seamlessly engages them in learning that is rich and empowering.”
It was Keffer, along with staff and parents, who nominated Beyerlein for the award. “Their endless support of the music program and their love of children helps me grow as a teacher and better impact the lives of students,” Beyerlein said of the Jones community.
Although the recognition is wonderful, Beyerlein insists “this recognition is not about me, but about the amazing staff and parents at Jones Elementary and their support for students,” she said. “Every schoolwide event, classroom guest and extra resource provided by our PTA leads to a better learning experience for our students. The parents, staff and principal always act with the understanding that our students are the most important people in the building.”
Stacey Coppock is in her fifth year at Folger McKinsey Elementary School, her 11th with Anne Arundel County Public Schools. She said she is passionate about teaching because “it’s for the joy, the laughter, the risk-taking, the moments where I see a student’s face light up when I’m teaching and the positive impact I have on every single child. I thrive on thinking outside the box to create lesson plans that meet the needs of all my learners. I love what I do, it’s who I am.”
Folger McKinsey Elementary Principal Lenora Fox said Coppock’s content is rigorous.
“She makes the standards of mathematical practice come to life, pairing technology with real-world application projects,” said Fox. “She is always eager to collaborate with peers, and works tirelessly to differentiate the instruction for learners in her classroom. Mrs. Coppock is known to give her students regular ‘brain breaks’ throughout the day, and her peaceful, even-keeled demeanor leads to a positive energy within her classroom. She creates a safe, calm environment within the classroom, so the students are always open to participating and learning.”
Coppock said the Teacher of the Year process has given her time to reflect on her teaching practices.
“I owe a lot of my nomination to my family; I wouldn’t be who I am today without them,” said Coppock. “They have taught me how to be patient, kind-hearted and to take pride in everything I do. I also couldn’t do what I do without the colleagues, students and parents that I have met along my teaching journey.”
The semifinalists will be among 40 public school and eight independent school educators to be honored at the 32nd annual Excellence in Education banquet at the BWI Marriott in Linthicum on April 25. The event is sponsored by AACPS and the Anne Arundel County Chamber of Commerce.
“Teaching is a journey and so is the Teacher of the Year selection process,” said Beyerlein. “The process is teaching me to be more reflective and is helping me build the best learning experiences possible for our students.”