Wednesday, 02 April 2014 15:14


Sauer brings innovation to classroom

by John G. Bailey

Good teachers are driven.
First grade teacher Katy Sauer of Charlesmont Elementary School, this year’s Dundalk Chamber of Commerce Outstanding Elementary School Teacher award winner, explains her vocational choice this way: “Early childhood education has always had a special place in my heart.”
    Sauer began her career teaching preschool for two years at Hampton Lane Child Development Center before transferring to Charlesmont Elementary School to teach kindergarten for a year. She is in her fifth year as a first-grade teacher at the school. 
    She was chosen for the award in large part for her initiative in promoting technology in the classroom.
    “The 21st-Century student needs to be reached differently than we did as children,” Sauer said. “Their world is saturated in technology, and they are growing up in that world.”
    Sauer was instrumental in the acquiring and implementating two “SMART Tables” at Charlesmont Elementary, which was chosen as a pilot school to assess the impact of the technology for Baltimore County schools.
    SMART Tables — think computer tablets writ large — are designed to foster collaborative learning among as many as eight students at a time. The interactive technology requires students to work together in solving problems through the sharing of ideas and consensus-building.
    Surveys that Sauer conducted among her students to assess their reaction to the SMART Table in her classroom validated her own observations. Responses were positive.
    “It’s fun,” one student reported, “You’re learning, but you don’t actually know that you’re learning because you’re having fun.” Other students said the technology made it easier to pay attention to tasks at hand.
    The self-motivation evident in the survey results opens up opportunities for Sauer as a teacher. She looks forward to the “teachable moments” that arise when students solve tasks generated by the SMART Table through consensus. Instead of instructing students, Sauer can guide them in defending and supporting their reasoning.
    “Soft-spoken children find a stronger voice,”  said Sauer in explaining one of the benefits of the cooperative effort required by SMART Tables.
    The award also recognizes Sauer’s role in the Title I Parent Involvement Committee at Charlesmont Elementary. Title I refers to the provisions in Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 that target lifting the academic achievement of disadvantaged students. A high number of students at Charlesmont Elementary fall within that category.
    Parental involvement in children’s education is a key factor in increasing academic performance, and Sauer has been active in fostering  parent participation in school affairs. She has helped organize Back-to-School Night, Math Night, Literacy Night, Health Night and the art auction at Charlesmont Elementary, as well as other activities.
    An awareness of current affairs is crucial to an effective citizenry, and Sauer makes sure that students’ knowledge of the world begins early. Two years ago, she organized a student campaign at Charlesmont Elementary to collect items for “care packages” for American troops serving in Afghanistan.
    “The students reflected on the importance of the military for the nation, the sacrifices made by the troops in the war and the impact of their sacrifices on their families,” Sauer said of the project.         “I am very humbled and grateful to be receiving the  [Outstanding Elementary School Teacher] award,” said Sauer.
    Sauer credits the support of Charlesmont Elementary staff and teachers for her success as a teacher. She also acknowledged the importance of her students.
    “I am grateful for how my students teach me and remind me that I am still a student and a kid at heart.”


McCadden: building community

by Nicole Rodman

    For Theodore “Ted” McCadden, assistant professor of Chemical Dependency Counseling at CCBC Dundalk, it all comes back to community.
    In the classroom and beyond, McCadden strives to foster a strong sense of community in every aspect of his life.
    Now, McCadden is being honored by the community as one of the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce 2014 Teachers of the Year.
    Though he is not sure who nominated him for the award, McCadden is grateful for the recognition.
    “I’m both surprised and humbled to hear that I’ve won this award,” he explained. “I know that there were some really excellent teachers who were nominated. I’m truly grateful for the nomination.”
    A graduate of the Baltimore County Public Schools system, McCadden went on to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Towson University.
    Following his graduation, he worked as a substance abuse counselor and supervisor of substance abuse treatment programs in the public health system for eight years.
    It was during his work as a counselor that McCadden began pursuing a doctor of education degree at Penn State Harrisburg.
    Today, he is an assistant professor in the Chemical Dependency Counseling Program at CCBC Dundalk and is working to complete his doctoral dissertation.
    According to McCadden, it was working at CCBC that encouraged him to continue his own education.
    “My work at CCBC rekindled my passion for education and drove my decision to go back to school to study adult education,” McCadden noted.
    McCadden has been a part of the CCBC community since he was a teenager taking music classes at CCBC Essex (then Essex Community College).
    Years later — after finishing graduate school —  McCadden found himself back at CCBC after realizing that he would need to take a few more courses in order to apply for his counseling license.
    This would be his first introduction to the school’s Chemical Dependency Counseling Program.
    McCadden began teaching at CCBC Dundalk in 2004. He spent eight years as a part-time adjunct faculty member before accepting a full-time position.
    “I knew from the very first day in the classroom at CCBC that it was the place where I wanted to be,” McCadden said. “I love working with the students and in the campus community.”
    In his work at CCBC, McCadden trains future chemical dependency counselors.
    Chemical dependency counselors work with those dealing with substance abuse issues.
    McCadden told The Eagle he first became interested in chemical dependency counseling as a career after being introduced to the field during graduate school.
    “I had never considered chemical dependency counseling as a career, but found myself working with adolescents and families who were living with substance abuse issues,” McCadden explained.
    He began his career working in the Dundalk office of the Department of Juvenile Justice (now known as the Department of Juvenile Services).
    “I quickly realized that substance abuse counseling provided me with an opportunity to help people in a very tangible way,” McCadden noted. “The experience that I gained in my years as a substance abuse counselor and clinical supervisor comes into the classroom with me every day.”
    In the classroom, McCadden connects with his students by working to develop a sense of community.
    “Building community in the classroom is one of the most important aspects of teaching, in my opinion,” he said. “Unless we have a sense of community and mutuality, we are missing an opportunity for teaching that is liberatory and transformative for students, the teacher and the system of education.”
    In McCadden’s class-room, learning is a two-way street. Relationships are built on mutual respect and learning together.
    “My students have such a wealth of skills and knowledge to offer each other,” McCadden explained. “We learn through dialogue and collaboration, not from the ‘sage on the stage’ lecture environment.”
    Outside of the class-room, McCadden is an active member of the CCBC community as an advisor for Active Minds.
    Active Minds is an organization designed to build understanding of mental health issues.
    McCadden is also an honorary member of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society and a member of the CCBC Dundalk Honors Advisory Council and the CMDP (Chemical Dependency Counseling Program) Advisory Board.
    In addition, he works with the Office of Student Life to bring special events to campus.
    He also strives to stay involved in the Dundalk community.
    McCadden, with his Active Minds students and CCBC’s First Year Mentors, helped develop Wellness Screening Day — a daylong event in which individuals were screened for depression and anxiety issues.
    Currently, McCadden is working to help plan a community event for National Recovery Month in September.
    For McCadden, staying involved in the local community is vital to his work at CCBC.
    “The connection between college and community is one that is very important to me; we have a responsibility in higher education to be in tune with and responsive to the needs of our community,” he said.
    It is McCadden’s commitment to his students and the community that has earned him recognition as one of the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce 2014 Teachers of the Year.
    As a Chamber of Commerce biography of McCadden noted, “he is not only a teacher, but an innovator, mentor, community organizer and a friend to the Dundalk community.”

Thurston: seeking – and offering – challenges

by Ben Boehl

    Being a special education teacher is not always easy, but Sparrows Point Middle School Teacher Laura Thurston said she enjoys the challenge.
    Her colleagues must think she must be doing something right, as Thurston was named Outstanding Middle School Teacher by the Dundalk Chamber of Commerce.
    “It is amazing and an incredible honor to the fact that my principal and colleagues think so highly of me,” Thurston noted.
    Thurston was recently named special education department chair at Sparrows Point Middle School. The school’s principal, Lisa Perry, said that Thurston has adjusted nicely into her new role.
    “Leadership is not for everyone, but Laura is truly a leader. She is someone who people come to when they are in need because they know that she will do what is in their best interests,” Perry said.
    “She has implemented a number of new ideas that have helped enhance the department. Laura was chosen for this role because of her ability to relate to the faculty and staff, as well as the students and parents.”
    Thurston responded that the move to department chair was not a tough transition because of her relationship with her colleagues and she said she had “a vision on how to run the program”
    According to Perry, Thurston has the passion, an ability to connect with students and an understanding of how to share knowledge that Perry said makes Thurston an “outstanding teacher.”
    Perry explained that the students in Thurs-ton’s classes see that same drive and passion and said Thurston is able to connect with students because she gets to know the children she teaches.             Perry went on to explain that educators need to learn what makes an individual student work. She said Thurston is great at challenging students to perform at a higher level when many teachers are unsuccessful.
    “The students love Laura. I know that they do because they tell me how much they love her on a daily basis,” Perry added.
    “I look at Laura’s grades. Students achieve higher grades in her class, and I attribute this to her ability to connect with them on a personal level.”
    Thurston responded that she tries to provide guidance for her students, but her philosophy is to steer them in the right direction to help them achieve their own goals.
    “I love working with special education. It is a different challenge. My mind works differently,” Thurston said.
    “You have to have an end goal. I like to hold my kids to a high level to give them the steps to get them there.”
    After being a teacher in New York State for 12 years, Thurston moved to Baltimore, where she received her certificate for Assistive Technology at Johns Hopkins University.
    She has been at Sparrows Point Middle for nearly five years.
    “It is a wonderful community, and it is a wonderful school,” Thurston said. “Everyone would stop by and ask if I need help or needed anything. It is a really comforting experience.”
    Thurston said she also tutors students during the school year and summer and has become a runner.
    That entails being a triathlete and participating in distance runs and triathlons for charities benefiting autism, dyslexia and epilepsy.
    “I was not a runner before I came here,” Thurs-ton said laughing. She explained that she and a few of the teachers go for a jog down to North Point State Park after school.
    “There are some of my students that say they saw me running,” she added. “I try to show them that you have to be persistent and you have to follow through.”

Buttion: keeping students on cutting edge

by Bill Gates

    When the word “technical” is part of your school name, it’s a good idea to stay on the cutting edge of technology.
    When Sollers Point Technical High School needed someone to oversee STEM (Science, technology, engineering, mathematics) implementation, it turned to teacher Linda Buttion.
    “Ms. Buttion strives each and every day to plan and execute STEM-based lessons that prepares students for colleges and careers in the 21st Century,” Sollers Point principal Mike Weglein said. “She understands our future workforce must have a basic understanding of how science and technology affects their world and how they exist both within and around science and technology.”
    A teacher in the southeastern area since 1999, Buttion teaches Gifted and Talented (G&T), Honors and standard biology for ninth and 10th grades; Concepts of Physical Science for ninth grade; and G&T, Honors and standard chemistry for the 10th grade.
    She is the chairwoman of the Science and Academy of Health Professions department.
    “Ms. Buttion has been an instrumental faculty member and leader in our transition to Common Core state standards and STEM implementation,” Weglein said. “She has participated in and led a variety of school and district-based initiatives.”
    Those initiatives include being a member of the STEM Learning Community (PLC) and the  Middle States Evaluation Team, as well as part of the following committees: School Improvement; New Student Orientation; Fall Open House; Future Teachers of America; 9th Grade PASS program; Professional Development; Parent Survey; and Attendance (for which she is also the co-chair).
    In service to the Dundalk community, Buttion is a member of the Environmental and Recycling committees, worked with Rebuild Dundalk from 2009-2012, and helps with the St. Patrick’s Day parade.
    As the STEM PLC chairwoman at Sollers Point, Buttion oversees the interdisciplinary committee of faculty members who work with students to solve health and science questions.
    The committee consists of teachers from a variety of areas including science, math, nursing and technical education.
    They focus on implementing Common Core with research, reading and writing while also implementing STEM standards through inquiry projects with Sollers Point students.
    The STEM PLC was recently highlighted by the Maryland State Department of Education as an example of an exemplary, secondary PLC; Battion and other teachers from the Sollers Point STEM PLC made a presentation at the 2013 Towson University STEM symposium.
    “[Buttion] leads many professional development sessions in our building,” Weglein said. “She is a respected faculty presenter on formative assessment strategies and the Maryland STEM standards.
    “Her student-centered lessons require participants to think critically and creatively while using technology to solve science problems.”