Although her classroom is at the end a long hallway, Marci Ginsberg’s art class does not exist in a vacuum. At John M. Clayton Elementary School, she uses art to build upon regular classroom lessons.
When fourth-graders learn about polygons, she’ll teach Picasso. When science classes learn about landforms, she’ll teach landscapes, pointing out the mountains and plateaus. She’s also inspired by current events, such as space shuttle or rocket launches.
That’s part of what made Ginsberg the JMC Teacher of the Year for 2015-2016.
“I extend their learning or refine it into another way, and it’s really cool to see them make those connections,” Ginsberg said of the students.
She works closely with other teachers, building on their lessons. She also wrote module maps, so other specialist teachers can follow core classroom standards.
“She tries to align her classroom to what [teachers] are doing and the state standards,” said JMC Principal Charlynn “Char” Hopkins.
Ginsberg has also embraced Common Core educational standards.
“It’s been tough for teachers. I want to help them move ahead. Not just be a specialist … but a team member,” said Ginsberg.
Ginsberg said she loves her classes and their creations.
“I love seeing when a kid plans and problem-solves and uses that brainstorming to create something,” she said.
Her kids recently painted flowers Georgia O’Keefe-style.
“I just love walking around seeing how different everyone’s is,” although they all learned the same techniques to get there.
“Anyone can draw” if they can see line and shape. Ginsberg said she thinks some of her students have “figured out how to look at things.”
“They do so many innovative projects throughout the year,” Hopkins said. “The children love going to art.”
Each child has his or her own sketchbook, thanks to local grant funding Ginsberg sought.
“They’re $3 apiece, but you would think I had given them a million dollars,” she said, holding up the elegant bound books, used for sketching and writing exercises.
Students only get 45 minutes in her classroom, on a four-day rotation, so she has to make the time count.
As a fundraiser and a treat for the families, Ginsberg has student art published on different items. They get a free sheet of stickers with their own individual designs, and then families can purchase additional objects, such as more stickers, or mugs or aprons.
She always enjoyed art, but a professor at James Madison University encouraged her to develop her teaching skills.
“It’s funny that I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do. I can’t imagine doing anything else,” Ginsberg said.
This is her seventh year at JMC, formerly Frankford Elementary School. She began her 10-year career in education in Worcester and Montgomery counties in Maryland.
In the past, she’s done everything from murals with senior citizens to coaching seven years of varsity lacrosse at Worcester Preparatory School.
Originally from the Silver Spring, Md., area, Ginsberg now lives in Ocean Pines, Md., with her husband. A proud godmother and aunt, she loves the beach and home décor.
Her craftiness extends from the classroom, as she’s painted hundreds of wooden letters for interior décor, made jewelry and led children’s craft parties.
Ginsberg also loves technology and has helped her coworkers embrace it.
“I have revised my teaching strategy to incorporate technology in my classroom,” a coworker wrote for Ginsberg’s award presentation. “She pushes me, supports me and inspires me.”
“Some of the most challenging students leave their troubles at the door when entering Marci’s classroom,” her colleagues said.
“She’s just excellent with the students. She’s a unique personality. She brings the best out in her students,” Hopkins said. “We’re very fortunate to have her here.”
“I love my vice principal and principal, Ginsberg said. “They make me feel just as important as any classroom teacher,” she added, also gushing about her supportive teaching team.
This is Ginsberg’s first Teacher of the Year award.
“Being the art teacher and getting this recognition is so nice. … It means a lot to me that they value what I do — not only for fundraising and grants” but her work with Common Core and other teachers. “Every teacher here is amazing,” she enthused.