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North Point High School Teacher Named Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher
Charles County, MD - 3/22/2011
At North Point High School, Christine Dutrow is known as a teacher who has a natural ability to inspire those who surround her – as if she embodies a magnetic force that radiates her passion for working with children. One minute she can be found in her classroom, enthusiastically teaching a group of her students to “think outside of the box” and get in touch with their creative writing side, and then the next minute, she has rearranged a classroom into a mock studio where she encourages students to explore their love for tap dancing.
The passion Dutrow has for teaching English, her charisma and love for dancing and her desire to explore and share some of her favorite works of literature with her students is evident in her work. She pushes her students to do their best and is not afraid to show her care and concern for their education as well as their overall well-being. For these qualities, and her ability to connect with her students and instill a strong desire to learn in them, Dutrow was selected as the 2011 Washington Post Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award recipient for Charles County.
Dutrow, along with her husband, Jason who teaches social studies at North Point, began her career with Charles County Public Schools in 2005. Born and raised in Ohio, Dutrow said she was excited to have the opportunity to start her career at a new high school and after visiting the area and meeting system staff, she and her spouse accepted positions and relocated to Maryland. “There was a job fair at the university I attended and I met with several school districts. I researched a few and also had a recruitment DVD from Charles County. Seeing the video and listening to the teachers talk about their experiences really sold me on Charles County,” she said.
North Point Principal Kimberly Hill said it was during Dutrow’s first year of teaching that she realized what a special teacher she had teaching in her school. “It was immediately apparent that she not only took her job very seriously, but that she wasn’t afraid to show that she cares about her students. Students want to follow her lead because they know she expects them to be successful. Many times, she believes in her students more than they believe in themselves. She provides a safety net for students to move beyond their fears by showing them that they will succeed if they work hard and trust her,” Hill said in a nomination letter.
When she was notified that she had been selected as the award recipient, Dutrow said she was stunned and overwhelmed by the news. “I feel so honored – to receive this award is such an honor. There is such an amazing group of people here and the fact that staff wanted to nominate me was truly a humbling surprise,” she said. Now in her sixth year at North Point, Dutrow said each day of work is just as exciting as her first day. “Every day is so different in teaching. That is what makes it so exciting. I love coming to work each day,” she added.
Dutrow’s choice of career paths has a lot to do with her love for dancing and reading. As a child, she began to take dance classes at a local studio, where she eventually was asked to come back and teach classes during her high school years and during her time in college. She said she knew from working with children, and the feelings of excitement that overwhelmed her when a student “got it” that she wanted to change her major in college from dance to secondary education. It was also her love for novels such “The Lord of the Flies” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” that fused her desire to teach English, and the fact that both of her parents are also educators.
“I fell in love with reading at a young age. My parents always bought me books, books and more books, and I also credit my third grade teacher Mrs. Walley. She had a stack of books in her classroom and she would read to us. I love being able to teach students about books that I love, such as “Lord as the Flies”. It is an amazing book and I learn more about the complexities of it every time I teach it,” Dutrow said.
Her passion for teaching and reading is also clear to her students. In the more than 10 letters submitted by students on behalf of Dutrow’s nomination, the impact she has on students inside and outside of her classroom is memorable. Devonte Thomas, a senior at North Point, had Ms. Dutrow for English II and credits her with molding him into a confident writer. “Without her help, I don’t think I would have the knowledge I have attained about punctuation, grammar and writing skills. She wants you to be successful and to me this is everything an outstanding leader should be. She possesses communication skills, determination to become better at what she does and the passion and love to teach English,” Thomas wrote.
Parents of students at North Point, such as Rebecca Roussillon, have also witnessed Dutrow’s love for teaching through their children’s increased enthusiasm to learn and achieve. “Mrs. Dutrow has a profound way of relating to her students and pulling out their own interests. This encouraged my daughter’s confidence and fostered the spark of her goals. Her interest in her students beyond the doors of the classroom will remain in her students’ hearts,” she wrote in a nomination letter.
Dutrow teaches English II honors and A-level courses and primarily works with sophomores. She also volunteers to teach inclusion classes each year and incorporates the use of differentiation strategies to reach and include all students. Among her favorite tools to use for lessons are the SmartBoard and the classroom performance system, or CPS clickers, which provide instant student assessment. Other teachers can often be found in Dutrow’s classroom, observing her use of technology to implement similar strategies in their classrooms. Dutrow also tutors students daily during their lunch hour and serves as a check-in/check-out mentor to help encourage students and provide positive reinforcement.
North Point junior Tanner Morton had Dutrow as his seventh-grade language arts teacher, as the school opened as a middle school to transition into a high school, and for his English II course in tenth grade. He said Dutrow has a unique way of catching and maintaining students’ interests in class and is one of the most supportive teachers he has ever had. “I remember her classes more than most because instead of just reading a book and doing a worksheet, we would have deep and interesting discussions in class and she always managed to keep us interested afterward,” he wrote in a nomination letter.
Dutrow is also well known for choreographing musicals for the theater department, spring choir shows and routines for the school’s pom pon squad, which allows her to infuse her love for dancing into her role as a teacher. “The best part of working on the musicals is that I get to work with such a broad spectrum of students that I do not have in the classroom. Everything I get to do as a teacher is just so much fun,” she said.
Outside of the classroom, Dutrow has helped write English II and Summer Academy curriculum, provided staff development sessions on CPS training and critical thinking strategies, and has attended several national Advanced Placement (AP) conferences. She said she feels fortunate to teach in Charles County because she has been given several opportunities for professional growth. “I am surrounded by such an amazing group of people in this county. I feel so fortunate to have access to so many resources and opportunities. I really feel at home here and part of the community,” Dutrow said.
Dutrow earned her bachelor’s degree in adolescent to young adult education with a focus in integrated language arts from the University of Akron in 2005, and will complete her master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from McDaniel College in July.
The goals of the Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award, which is sponsored by the Washington Post Company Educational Foundation, are to recognize excellence in teaching, to encourage creative and quality instruction, and to contribute in a substantive way to the improvement of education. Agnes Meyer was the wife of Eugene Meyer, who purchased the Post in 1933 and was an advocate for public education. The Post will honor Dutrow during a reception later this spring. She will be recognized by the Board of the Education at their April 5 meeting. Charles County Public Schools provides 26,858 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 caring community schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
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