It’s always encouraging to hear that you’re doing a good job. And Mary Kreger, a fourth-grade teacher at Lord Baltimore Elementary School, got the highest praise when one of her students won the state’s 2012 Teacher Appreciation Essay Contest.
Morgan Bomhardt was one of the three winners – one each in categories for elementary, middle and high school – from the hundreds of students who entered Delaware Department of Education’s contest for National Teacher Appreciation Week, celebrated from May 7 to 11 this year.
Bomhardt wrote about Kreger being a good example for new teachers because she makes learning fun. She described interactive book reports, in which students dressed as the people they researched. This made an otherwise “boring” assignment exciting, she said.
“[Group work] is a big thing that teachers need to do, because if they can make learning fun, students will be engaged in class,” Bomhardt wrote. “Then, each student will actually want to come to school every day.”
Plus, the fourth-grade instructor gets additional math training to teach skills beyond the curriculum.
“She takes the time to learn things that most fourth-grade teachers don’t know,” Bomhardt wrote. “She not only educates herself but she wants her students to get better.”
Delaware Secretary of Education Lillian Lowery (who is set to become Secretary of Education for the State of Maryland later this summer) visited Lord Baltimore Elementary School for the first time to personally award Bomhardt and Kreger their prizes: certificates commemorating the honors, gift cards, a Delaware pin and an education bracelet.
Lowery greeted the class and asked them, “So this is a pretty good teacher?”
“Yes!” the children shouted.
“So Morgan wasn’t making stuff up?”
“I don’t know if any of you know, but you are probably in the best district in the state,” Lowery said, citing school and district leadership. “Indian River is a great school district.”
Principal Janet Hickman confirmed, “[Kreger] is a phenomenal teacher. She really works hard … and kids really work hard in her room,” explained Hickman. “She explains, makes you think and really gets into things, more than, ‘OK – you’ve got the answer, let’s move on.’ She’s very enthusiastic. She’s as hyper as most kids.”
“I’m very pleased to have Mrs. Kreger as my fourth-grade teacher this year,” said Bomhardt. “It’s been such an honor to have her as my teacher, and I really love her.”
“Those are the things that I appreciate, that you don’t hear all the time. That’s why I teach,” said Kreger. “That’s what really counts, when something you do makes a difference for their learning. It’s very touching … It is a positive note to keep on doing what I’m doing.”
Kreger also shared her own admiration of Bomhardt: “She’s just one of those students who’s got this determination and dedication to be the best she can be, without prompting. When she shared the essay with me – now it brings tears to my eyes, because when I hear from you guys, my students, this is what makes my job, why I do it. I’m the facilitator. You guys are the learners. We take how far you want to learn, and that’s how far I’m going to take you. So thank you for the kind words, because [they’re] sometimes the things I don’t get to hear.
Bomhardt’s family was also present to celebrate the award.
“We are so proud of her, but she had great subject matter to write on, truly!” said Alicia Bomhardt, Morgan’s mother. “We’re just big fans [of Kreger]. Everything Morgan said in the essay is right on. … She just gets the most out of them, really makes them achieve to their full potential.”
The full winning essays and other entries, categorized by school, are posted online at www.doe.k12.de.us/essays/winners.shtml. Students statewide wrote about everything from creative lesson plans to teachers whose classroom management stopped bullying and encouraged teamwork.
Other state winners included fifth-grader Tiffany Ince and her classroom teacher, John Arent, at Pleasantville Elementary in New Castle, and 11th-grader Nathan Buethe and Michael Scarborough, a history teacher at Delaware Military Academy in Wilmington.
“Often, educators’ hard work and extra hours goes unheralded by adults, but for the students in their classrooms, it doesn’t go unnoticed,” Lowery said in a statement. “These students explained best just how special and extraordinary Delaware’s teachers are.”