Educator Of The Month: Laura Palermo

Benfield Elementary School


For Benfield Elementary School kindergarten teacher Laura Palermo, home is where the heart is. The former Benfield Bulldog even lives in her childhood home with her husband and three daughters. Palermo always knew that if the chance to work at Benfield ever presented itself, she’d take it.

“Benfield is an amazing, tight-knit community school,” Palermo said. “I am surrounded by dedicated educators and supportive families.”

For the school’s students, parents and colleagues, the love is mutual.

According to Benfield Elementary School Principal Sue Myers, “Mrs. Palermo is an exceptional teacher who builds relationships with her students and parents, fostering a positive relationship from the beginning of the year.”

Her students may be only 5 or 6 years old, but Palermo has high expectations for the kids, who always keep her on her toes.

“I want them to know that they are valued, supported and belong in my class, but I will challenge them to work hard and meet their potential,” Palermo said.

Her favorite aspect about teaching kindergarten is the amount of growth students make in one short school year. It’s a huge leap both academically and socially, she noted.

“Kindergarten students are like sponges with a thirst for knowledge, excited to share their experiences, and most importantly, eager to please with kind hearts,” she said.

Palermo – who earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in early childhood education from Towson University – also believes teaching roles extend well beyond the curriculum.

“Building relationships and providing opportunities for the students and families is important to me,” she said.

In addition to her teaching duties, Palermo coordinates the kindergarten act for Benfield's annual variety show and the end-of-year kindergarten musical performance. The musical performance brings families together as students showcase fun, sentimental songs about their time in kindergarten.

“She creates opportunities for children to have keepsakes, so that parents and students are able to look back and reflect on the successes and fun of the school year,” Myers explained.

Specifically, the keepsakes are a kindergarten scrapbook for each student in class with a photo and work sample from each month. These are compiled with the help of volunteers, whom Palermo is fondly known for welcoming into her classroom.

“Building relationships with the students and trust with the families is paramount for a successful year,” she said. “I encourage volunteers to come to our class and focus on collaborating with parents to help the students succeed.”

Additionally, she helps with the third- through fifth-grade Girls on the Run program at Benfield. Palermo is one of the volunteer coaches who inspire girls to build confidence through physical activities.

Further, Palermo runs a mentor program, where a few older Benfield students come in for a 15-minute daily session to work with her students. They review or extend skills, read books or play games together.

While the school itself has changed physically since Palermo was a student there, many traditions along with the commitment to excellence have remained. Interestingly, Palermo had Patti Bartlett in fifth grade and now works alongside her at Benfield.

“Mrs. Bartlett’s unwavering dedication to her students hasn’t changed one bit,” Palermo said. “She’s often the first one there in the morning and the last to leave.”

Many former Benfield students are moving back to the area and Palermo is amazed at how many sets of parents and children Bartlett has taught. With Palermo’s contributions to Benfield, one can only hope for a similar trajectory for the beloved kindergarten teacher.

Myers summed up Palermo’s impact beyond her own classroom. “Mrs. Palermo is a true champion of Benfield and is not only invested in the school for her students; she is supportive to the staff and the whole Benfield community.”

Living in the neighborhood in which Palermo teaches is also a wonderful experience for her. Outside the classroom, she keeps busy by helping with social events at St. Andrew’s Swim and Tennis Club.

“I love seeing former, current and future students and their families at community events,” she said. “I hope that people know that I am invested in their students, school community and the greater community.”


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