Frederick County Public Schools’ first-grade teacher Courtney Waters at Kemptown Elementary School will receive the 2020 Charles E. Tressler Distinguished Teacher Award. Sponsored by Hood College, the award is presented to an FCPS teacher who has had a significant impact on young people.
Waters learned this morning that she is this year’s honoree when Superintendent Dr. Terry Alban led the FCPS “SurPRIZE Patrol” on a virtual surprise visit to an online meeting to which Principal Kathryn Golightly had summoned this year’s winner. Also “crashing” the virtual meeting to surprise Waters were BOE member Karen Yoho, Deputy Superintendent Dr. Mike Markoe, executive directors Jamie Aliveto and Daryl Boffman, and FCTA President Missy Dirks to congratulate her.
“Courtney is a dynamic educator who is dedicated to her students and families. She is always seeking innovative approaches to use in her classroom. She is a terrific teacher leader and role model,” says Principal Golightly, whose daughter Allyson Golightly was last year’s Tressler Award recipient.
A 2015 summa cum laude graduate of Stevenson University in Owings Mills, Maryland, Waters began teaching at Kemptown that fall. There, she has worked as team leader for the first grade since 2018. Since 2015, she has coached the school’s Running Chics, encouraging girls in grades three to five in physical fitness activities and promoting confidence and teamwork. Since 2016, she has led monthly Kinetic Cougars meetings with fifth graders, helping them choose activities and promote school spirit days and assisting them in pairings to serve as first grade “math buddies” to promote math skills. She has also developed reading and math lessons for summer extended-learning opportunities. As a Camp Invention counselor, she facilitated science lessons through the National Inventors Hall of Fame and fostered students’ creativity and innovation in building electric-powered devices.
Kemptown Elementary parent Jill Wade co-chaired the school’s awards committee and completed the award nomination. She commended Waters for “tireless commitment to her students’ emotional health and educational rigor” and her work in a Writers Lunch Club, in which “what was once an irksome task wrought with frustration became a confidence building enterprise, wherein the students’ esteem and skill grew in equal measure.” Wade also highlighted the activities that Waters engages in to build relationships with students, sending them postcards before the school year starts, attending their extracurricular events and continuing to write to them after the school year ends to share her summer fun and ask about theirs.
Waters earned the Maryland Association of Teacher Educators Distinguished Teacher Candidate Award and the Maryland State Department of Education Teacher of Promise Award, both in May 2015.
The late Samuel Eig of Gaithersburg, MD, established the Tressler Award to recognize Dr. Tressler, a Giles professor emeritus of early childhood education who taught at the college from 1964 to 1990. Dr. Tressler chaired Hood’s Education Department for 18 years and served on the school’s graduate school council for 12 years.