Rockville teacher Melissa Segal asks her fourth-graders to pitch a business plan in an assignment inspired by the TV reality show Shark Tank. Cherin Hershkowitz, a math teacher, has worked with her colleagues to boost by 27 percent the number of students getting a C or higher in algebra. English teacher Nancy Shay has helped narrow the minority student achievement gap at her Rockville high school.

This week, these three instructors were announced as finalists for the 2017-2018 Montgomery County Public Schools Teacher of the Year Award. The recognition aims to reward teachers for inspiring their students, giving their colleagues a boost and getting involved in their communities.

Segal, who works at Luxmanor Elementary School in Rockville, has introduced mindfulness strategies into her teaching to “help students clear their minds and focus their thoughts.” She also has volunteered her time to scoop ice cream at fundraisers or plant flowers to beautify the school, according to an MCPS press release.

The teaching approach of Hershkowitz, who works in Roberto Clemente Middle School in Germantown, allows students to “embrace the theories behind the algorithm,” the release stated. She’s worked outside the classroom to discuss the Common Core, a set of learning standards adopted by many states, with parents and raised money for a sister school in South Africa.

Shay of Richard Montgomery High School heads the English department and has pushed to teach literacy across the curriculum. She also trains at International Baccalaureate workshops across the nation. She helps lead an after-school program to provide tutoring, mentoring and student support and organizes school conversations on race and culture, the press release states.

The winner will be announced April 26 in a ceremony at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown. The honor is sponsored by the Marian Grenblatt Fund, which provides $2,000 to each finalist.

Silver Spring students use math to make sense of March Madness

A statistics class at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring is using math to predict March Madness winners.

Fox5 reported that David Stein’s class has made determining the results of the college basketball tournament the math project for the semester. Sports teams are relying on high-level math and analytics to strategize, and students can follow suit, Stein said. The students look at player efficiency, field goal percentages, the performance of coaches and win-loss rates for teams to craft their predictions.

Through the class, Stein is also demonstrating a bit of strategy by figuring out a way to get students interested in math.

“We have come a long way in math education, particularly here at Blair, in figuring out ways to really get the kids to engage their math, use it in complicated situations where there aren’t easy answers,” Stein told the Fox reporter.

School board to talk about new middle school name

The Montgomery County Board of Education on Thursday will talk about naming the new Kensington middle school.

Last month, the school board released four proposed names for the school set to open in August. The names are: Kensington, Silver Creek, Harriet Tubman and Dr. Paul L. Vance. A committee of parents in the community to be served by the school will rank the options and is allowed to suggest alternatives.