Christine McCallister — science department chairperson and seventh-grade science teacher at Magothy River Middle School — has done it again. She’s received another Anne Arundel County Teacher of the Year nomination.
McCallister was nominated in 2015 while teaching at Meade Middle School. This year, she joins five others as finalists for the county’s Teacher of the Year award.
“It is an honor and privilege to be selected the first time, but twice in my teaching career is amazing, and one I do not take for granted,” McCallister said.
In 2015, McCallister was also nominated for the West County Chamber of Commerce Educator of the Year as part of the chamber's Spirit of the Community Awards.
McCallister — who has been teaching for 29 years, 23 of which have been middle school science — has always loved working with children and got an early start as the most popular babysitter in her neighborhood. Parents would negotiate which day they wanted her to work. Every summer, she worked as a camp counselor and quickly moved up to supervisor.
McCallister knew early on that she wanted to be a teacher. Her favorite teachers throughout the years were the ones with creative ideas to help students learn. For instance, a singing French teacher, a chemistry teacher who blew up something and put a hole in the ceiling tile and an Advanced Placement history teacher who allowed students to play the stock market.
Magothy River Middle School Principal John Noon said McCallister inspires a love of learning and an excitement for science.
“Ms. McCallister meticulously plans individualized instruction to engage all learners, maximizing growth while meeting students’ unique needs,” Noon said.
Both Noon and McCallister referenced her iconic, white lab coat and how it piques the interest of students as soon as they walk into her classroom.
“When I wear my white lab coat, the students know there will be hands-on collaboration, data collection and problem solving,” McCallister said.
McCallister creates innovative lessons that are aimed to make her students want to learn science, which allows them to see how science is connected to all contents. Students dissect frogs and owl pellets, participate in scooter racing to show how increasing exercise affects heart rate, mix chemicals to differentiate endothermic and exothermic reactions, balance equations in chemistry to support math, engineer Rube Goldberg machines and learn environmental issues, such as how microplastics are affecting our waterways.
The favorite part of her job is when students are eager to learn and look forward to her class. She also enjoys teaching middle-schoolers because they love lab days, and they laugh at her jokes.
“It makes my heart smile when science ‘fun’ is the topic of conversation at the lunch table,” McCallister said.
McCallister is proud that she instills in her students that learning will not always be easy but to call on strategies they’ve learned in order to persevere and succeed. Her enthusiasm and love of teaching science carries over to her students no matter their varying academic capabilities.
“I create risk-takers, problem-solvers and scientists that ask questions and find solutions through collaboration,” McCallister said. “Learners that struggle with academic motivation are engaged and excel in my class because of the many creative strategies I incorporate into my lessons.”
Additionally, McCallister has held the role of science department chairperson for seven years. With this role, she attends collaborative planning sessions, leadership meetings and school improvement team meetings; offers instructional walkthroughs; purchases supplies and equipment for labs and analyzes data. She also organizes the school-wide science fair and STEM night.
Her overall job is to motivate everyone in the science department to be their best, something that McCallister hopes her students and colleagues will do.
Cafe Mezzanotte is a proud sponsor of Educator of the Month. To nominate a teacher, guidance counselor, principal or other educator, email firstname.lastname@example.org.