From left: Kristen Kane, Janet Gallagher and Edwina A. Kollo Credit: VIA MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Montgomery County’s teacher of the year could be a kindergarten instructor who runs a lively classroom at a Silver Spring school, a math specialist who has started an online summer math class at her Gaithersburg middle school, or a resource teacher from Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School who tries to inspire students to enroll in higher-level math and science courses.

Montgomery County Public Schools on Wednesday announced that Kristen Kane, Edwina A. Kollo and Janet Gallagher are three finalists for the distinction that will be conferred on April 18.

Kane has worked at Forest Knolls Elementary School since 2011 as a kindergarten and first-grade teacher, according to a news release. Students in her classroom have often exceeded learning benchmarks. Kane is also on her school’s leadership team and has served on the positive behavior improvement and support team.

Kollo of Shady Grove Middle School started out working in the business world, but became a long-term substitute teacher and fell in love with education. She tries to find creative ways to help students understand math and doesn’t give up when they don’t get it right away, the release stated.

Her philosophy is that “students not only need to understand the processes for solving problems, but they need to be able to connect their learning with their prior learning and real-world experience so they are able to apply math,” she explained in the release. Kollo has created an algebra club for students who are struggling in their classes and an afterschool program that could help them prepare for final exams.

Gallagher has worked as a resource teacher in Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s math department for about three years. Principal Donna Redmond Jones said she’s “an unsung hero in the math classes where exceptional teaching matters most,” the release stated.

African-American and Latino students accounted for nearly a third of her 2016-2017 Advanced Placement statistics course, and she has also taught math to students who are English language learners and have had interrupted educations.

“Her success with the most vulnerable students serves as a model for the 19 staff members she leads,” the release stated.

She’s also written curriculum and has organized a STEM advisory group that brainstorms about engaging students in problem-solving and teamwork. 

The winner of the teacher of the year award will be announced at the Champions for Children Awards Celebration next month in Germantown. The three finalists will each receive a $2,000 prize from the Marian Greenblatt Fund, which is named in honor of a former school board member.

Bethany Rodgers can be reached at