Educator Of The Month: Amy Hughes

Severna Park Middle School


At Severna Park Middle School (SPMS), sixth-grade math teacher Amy Hughes has worked with many children, but one constant never changes.

“Every child wants to learn,” Hughes said. “Some have different tools or need more support. Some kids might come to my class and say, ‘I hate math.’ My goal is to make them comfortable with math so they can persevere and try.”

Hughes grew up in New Jersey, often “playing school” with her sister because they both appreciated the nurturing, caring qualities needed to be a teacher. Education also runs in the family. Hughes’ mom teaches special education at a high school, her sister teaches elementary students, and she has aunts and uncles who teach.

She went to college for elementary education, but after spending a year as a substitute, she realized she liked being involved at the middle school level. Hughes could not find a job in New Jersey, but family members in Maryland told her to apply with Anne Arundel County Public Schools. Nineteen years later, she is still at Severna Park Middle School.

“I absolutely love this community,” she said. “I have taught a lot of families, and I have had a lot of siblings (in my classes), and the sixth-grade math team is absolutely amazing. Everyone I work with is amazing.”

One of those coworkers was also a mentor, fellow SPMS math teacher Phyllis Crabbe, who has since retired.

“She was my lifeline when I moved here and I was new to the school system,” Hughes said. “She helped me with planning and with my classroom management.”

As a team leader for the Dolphins — the name for the sixth grade at SPMS — Hughes plans field trips and conferences, and she sends weekly updates to the staff. She also runs the school’s math club and oversees competitions for MathCounts and the “24 Game.”

SPMS has advanced to the MathCounts state competition all 19 years Hughes has been at the school. That success has come regardless of changes in statewide math curriculum over the years.

“The biggest change is the concept of not wanting students to just know how to do something but also the why,” Hughes said. “It helps them get a deeper understanding of math.”

The SPMS administration sees Hughes’ contributions as an integral part of the school. Each Anne Arundel County public school nominates a teacher for the annual Excellence in Education awards dinner, and this year, SPMS Principal Dennis Kelly chose Hughes.

“It’s humbling,” Hughes said. “I’m very honored that Mr. Kelly thought I should be honored. I am excited to represent Severna Park Middle School.”

SPMS Principal Dennis Kelly called Hughes one of the most effective and efficient teachers he has ever observed.

“She makes the art of teaching look easy!” Kelly said. “But she relies on so many subtle skills that engage all students each and every day. Her students’ achievement data consistently points to her as one of the most successful teachers in our school system.”

Hughes emphasized that teaching can be a rewarding profession. Even with the many surprises in education, the benefits are always present.

“If you enjoy the students for who they are and their quirky personalities, it makes the job worth coming to,” Hughes said. “I never thought I would come teach middle school and now I cannot imagine not teaching middle school.”


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