Fifth grade teacher Lisa Teeling is on her way to San Francisco this week, thanks to the gratitude of a former student.
Over the summer, Gilman sixth grader Vasili A. nominated Teeling for The Johns Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth’s (CTY) Sarah D. Barder Fellowship Program, which is designed to honor and support great teachers for the work they do with talented students. CTY students in California, Maryland, and Nevada are invited to nominate outstanding teachers each year.
Vasili was new to Gilman last year and credits Teeling with helping make his transition “really easy and smooth.” His nomination letter began by saying, “I think Mrs. Teeling should win this award because she is so supportive, enthusiastic and fun that she made fifth grade an important year of learning and growing for me.” He went on to note her friendliness, flexibility, encouragement, and how she worked with him to improve his writing and organizational habits.
Vasili never told Mrs. Teeling that her name had been submitted. It was Christmas Eve when she received a letter notifying her of the nomination. “I was completely shocked,” she said. “His essay touched my heart. Vasili, and others like him, are what make teaching such a joy.”
The nominated teachers are then invited to apply to for the fellowship and up to 15 of the applicants are selected. Teeling found out in early January that she is one of just ten teachers chosen for this year’s program, which includes an all-expense-paid trip to the annual conference, held this year in San Francisco. In the years to follow, veteran teachers are invited to return to the conference, interact with new and returning fellows, and participate in a robust program of professional development centered on a theme.
Teeling says she’s looking forward to the networking aspect of the program, as well as the intense days of discussions and presentations. She is also honored by the way Vasili expressed his appreciation.
Vasili too, was pretty thrilled with the news. “I was incredibly excited, I was probably just as excited as she was,” he said. “She really deserves it. She just made fifth grade a lot of fun. I wasn’t just waiting for the bell to ring. It was a great year.”
Notably, Vasili has a successful track record with the Sarah D. Barder Fellowship. Last year, he nominated his teacher – Mrs. Emerson at Cathedral — and she was also selected for the program.
After five years in CTY, this summer will be Vasili’s final year in the program. And, yes, he plans to nominate another teacher. He’s still deciding on who it will be.
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