During the school year, Molly Abbott doesn’t just teach. She helps to build a sense of community at John M. Clayton Elementary School, where she was named the school’s Teacher of the Year for 2013-2014.
Receiving the award for the first time, Abbott said she always wanted to teach, and now her favorite part is planning and teaching lessons for the fourth grade. She gets to take educational standards and “create lessons that will be fun. [They can] be creative, as long as they fulfill the standard.”
Even as a child, she happily decorated the bulletin board at her mother’s in-home daycare. After she attended Lord Baltimore Elementary School, Abbott’s family moved to Virginia, where she attended James Madison University for early childhood education.
Through her six years of teaching, all at JMC, Abbott has taught other grades, but she said she likes fourth grade best because the kids are mature, but not too much.
“You can still talk with them and joke, [but] they get your humor. It’s a good balance for me,” Abbott said.
In an inclusion classroom, Abbott teaches general education, while another instructor helps those with special learning needs. Her challenge and goal is to meet the needs of every unique learner in the classroom. Abbott likes to use “tons of” cooperative group work and hands-on projects, so her students talk a lot to collaborate.
JMC compartmentalizes some classes, so Abbott teaches math and science. Between JMC’s large population of English language learners who are learning to read a new language and children’s natural enthusiasm for hands-on projects, Abbott said the children and she particularly enjoy these subjects.
She admitted to being a tough teacher at times but said her kids know she has high expectations and their best interests at heart.
As a PTO representative, Abbott said she also really enjoys planning events for the whole family.
“I like those events because ... with their families, [you] get to see different side of them,” Abbott said.
Having returned to her native Route 26 corridor, Abbott called her school an “amazing community” and said their success is “definitely a team effort.”
“I really do love this school. I can’t imagine teaching anywhere else,” Abbott said. “The kids are great here. There’s something special about them. They’re just unique here.”