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Our First Ever Teachers of the Year! Baltimore’s Child Recognizes 4 Classroom Stars

This spring, Baltimore’s Child put out a call for our first ever Teachers of the Year contest. Through our website and magazine we sought nominations, encouraging students and parents to tell us about a special teacher and share a little bit about how she or he has made an impact on their learning and their lives. We received great responses and picked four teachers, based on what readers wrote. These teachers represent not only a variety of schools and grade levels, but different subjects as well. Join us as we congratulate them on their success and appreciate their important roles in shaping the next generation.

Kellie Zephir
Overlea High School

Kellie Zephir received nine nominations from students and parents at Overlea High School, where she teaches chorus and piano. Here is what they have to say:

“Mrs. Zephir is truly there for each and every one of her students, she sees us as adults and treats us as the same,” writes junior Teddana Hobbins. “Our chorus program would not be the same without Mrs. Zephir, and I’m honored to say she is my teacher.”

Her classmates resounded with equal praise. “She genuinely cares for her students and goes the extra mile to provide for us unlike other teachers,” another student wrote. “She wants nothing but the best for us.”

“She’s the best choir teacher and the best kind of person you could ask for,” a third student says. “She cares for her students and has a beautiful personality
as well as voice.”

One of the things that Zephir likes best about her job is the way that music acts as a unifying tool. “I have been blessed to teach such an amazing community of students at Overlea High School. Music is the language that I use to communicate my love and deep respect for each of their unique God-given voices,” she says. “Music helps them build confidence and instills hope in them that they have the power to make a difference in this world.”

Stephanie Hadaway
School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen

Hadaway, right, with a colleague

Stephanie Hadaway, in photo on right, teaches first grade at School of the Cathedral of Mary Our Queen in Baltimore.

The parents who nominated her all seem to agree — she is warm and kind.

“Mrs. Hadaway was an amazing teacher for our son,” writes parent Sarah Fenhagen. “She has a very special way of commanding respect in such a kind way. She made the year fun while doing an incredible job of teaching reading, writing and math in way that was easily understood and exciting to learn. We so appreciate her kind and warm personality and look forward to her teaching our younger boys one day!”

“Mrs. Hadaway is an engaging, wonderful teacher but what sets her apart is her warmth and kindness,” parent Clare Bever says in her nomination. “My son learned so much this year, but Mrs. Hadaway always went the extra mile to encourage not only academic growth, but spiritual nurturing as well.”

“Mrs. Hadaway was that warm and fuzzy lower school teacher we wanted for our child,” says parent Ashley Henderson. “Mrs. Hadaway treated her students and parents with respect and showed positive reinforcement and personalized, individual attention to every child in her class. As parents, we felt that we were on the same team/page with Mrs. Hadaway who kept in constant communication with us. She made our son feel special and gave him the confidence he needed to flourish in her classroom.”

Hadaway “loves teaching first grade in a Catholic school,” she says. “It brings me great joy to see children absorb knowledge and grow in their faith.”

Christopher Osborn
Red Pump Elementary School

Christopher Osborn teaches second grade at Red Pump Elementary School in Bel Air. In addition to being a great teacher, he also likes to play kickball and trade Pokémon cards with his students, proving that you’re never too old to have some fun. His consistency both in and out of the classroom provides a strong model, parents say, and he encourages inclusion and cooperation.

“He was instrumental in the transition of my son from his previous school to Red Pump where he attends now. … he was extremely inviting, helpful … and went above and beyond in everything he did for my son and all the other children in the class,” parent Michael Hammel says. “He volunteered to do after-school activities that the students were interested in. My son was extremely excited to go to school every day and always tells us the Mr. Osborn is his favorite teacher.”

Josh Rubin
Ohr Chadash Academy

Josh Rubin is a history and language arts teacher at Ohr Chadash Academy’s middle school in Baltimore. He loves to connect with his students through real-life applications, he says. Parents say he is devoted to fostering a positive learning environment and encourages his students to enjoy the learning process.

“Mr. Rubin wants to ensure the students have a real connection with the English stories they are reading. This year, in connection with reading ‘Hana’s Suitcase,’ Mr. Rubin reached out to Hana’s uncle, a Holocaust survivor, and was able to get him to video conference with the class and really connect with what they read in the book,” parent Terri Rosen writes. “He pushes the students to work hard and meets with each of them to set goals for the school year, along with strategies to achieving those goals.”

Rubin believes “teaching is the most rewarding career that a person can have,” he says. “Watching my students develop a passion for learning and a craving for the material brings me so much joy in my daily life.”

Congratulations to all four winners of our Teachers of the Year Contest. Here’s to a great school year for all!

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