McComb a finalist for national award
Thursday, 23 January 2014 14:40

Sean McComb, a teacher at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, is one of four finalists for the 2014 National Teacher of the Year award.

Local teacher one of four Teacher of the Year hopefuls

by Nicole Rodman

For Sean McComb, an English teacher at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, the accolades keep on coming.
    On Jan. 15, McComb was named one of four finalists for the 2014 National Teacher of the Year award.
    McComb’s journey to the national level began when he was named Baltimore County Teacher of the Year last May.
    It continued in October as he earned the Maryland Teacher of the Year award.
    Now, he is one of four teachers vying for the national award, the winner of which will be announced in April.
    McComb was on his way to the White House to discuss educational opportunities for students when the news of his latest honor broke.
    Though it is the latest in a long string of awards, McComb keeps the kudos in perspective, seeing himself as a representative of his fellow teachers.
    “I felt blessed and honored when I heard the news,” McComb told The Eagle last week. “I am so thankful to continue to represent my amazing colleagues at Patapsco and the Dundalk community on another stage.”
    A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, McComb has been an educator for the past eight years. He has spent all of those years teaching at Patapsco.
    In addition to teaching English classes, McComb also leads the school’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) program.
    Through his work with AVID, McComb helps students strengthen their skills in preparation for college — and beyond.
    In addition to his work at Patapsco, McComb also  teaches at Towson University’s School of Education and writes curriculum for Baltimore County Public Schools.
    While he works to share his expertise with other educators, it is in the classroom that McComb feels most at home.
    Describing his teaching style as “high-energy,” McComb told The Eagle last May, “I like to joke and laugh, most of the grammar examples we use are self-deprecating for me. I take their learning seriously, but I don’t take myself too seriously.”
    McComb’s efforts to foster good relationships with students do not end at the classroom door.
    He uses Twitter and other media to stay accessible to students, even when class is not in session.
    It is this committment to his students that has allowed McComb to stand out among the millions of educators across the nation.
    As Maryland State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lillian Lowery noted, “There are more than 7.2 million teachers in the U.S., and more 60,000 in Maryland public schools alone, which puts Sean’s accomplishment in perspective.”
    She added of McComb, “His passion for his students and his belief in their success is emblematic of educators in our State.”
    Gov. Martin O’Malley also offered his congratulations to McComb, saying, “Sean McComb embodies what it means to be a teacher, tirelessly preparing his students for college, or a career after high school.”
    Closer to home, Patapsco principal Craig Reed expressed excitement at McComb’s latest honor.
    “Sean truly exemplifies the hard work and dedication needed to make a difference in the lives of students,” Reed told The Eagle. “He has been a fantastic representative for the teachers in Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts, Baltimore County and the State of Maryland.”
     McComb’s much-lauded dedication to his students was inspired by the teachers who helped him rise above a troubled childhood.
    “I grew up in the home of a mother fighting an addiction to alcohol,” McComb explained last year. “She passed away due to complications from the addiction in my senior year, and it was the influence of those teachers in my life that allowed me to get out to college and thrive.”
    It is McComb’s mission to become that kind of influence in the lives of his own students.
    Now, with the national attention his awards have garnered, McComb hopes to spread his message to a wider audience.
    “I think the message of believing in, valuing and expecting great things from students, and a systemic focus on eliminating barriers that limit our least-resourced students, is one that resonates with many people associated with education,” McComb stated in a press release last week, adding, “I hope to have more opportunities to share that message.”
    If selected as National Teacher of the Year, McComb will spend the next year advocating for education both nationally and internationally.
    In addition to speaking to groups both at home and abroad, the National Teacher of the Year may also influence education policy by being invited to sit on commissions and policy boards.
    The 2014 National Teacher of the Year will be announced by President Barack Obama in April.