A middle school teacher described as a “fierce advocate” for students was named the Montgomery County Public Schools Teacher of the Year during a virtual ceremony on Wednesday.
Joseph Bostic Jr., a math content specialist and eighth-grade team leader at Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School in Germantown, was named the winner of the annual award. He will now be a candidate for state honors, among the winners from each county.
During the virtual ceremony, an emotional Bostic said he was “grateful, humbled and honored.”
“We are not what happened to us, but what we choose to become. I hope tonight and my story inspires someone,” he said. “… I hope to learn about every untold story of every administrator, teacher, staff, student and family.”
In a press release from MCPS, a parent of a student taught by Bostic said, “He is an exceptional teacher, mentor, and positive role model.”
“Mr. Bostic’s love of teaching shines through in this challenging teaching environment and he truly has each student’s best interest at heart,” the parent said.
Bostic, described as “hard working, relentless and creative,” recently developed an “action plan” that reduced student truancy at his school from 33% to 25%, according to MCPS.
He is a member of the school improvement team, dedicates his lunch hours to help high-needs students with math, spearheaded a college and resource fair, and tailors his classes to meet students’ learning styles and needs.
He is a coach and electrical engineer, and has worked to diversify the MCPS teaching workforce through the Building Our Network of Diversity project.
Other finalists were Patricia Richards, a science teacher at Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, and Sara Kopf, a first-grade teacher at New Hampshire Estates Elementary School in Silver Spring.
Richards helped boost Advanced Placement participation among Black and Hispanic students at her school by 59%, MCPS wrote in a press release last month announcing the finalists. She helped reduce the number of minority students receiving a failing grade in science classes by 40%.
Kopf has been teaching first grade for 20 years, and continued to do so with “joy and expertise” despite running a fever for more than 200 consecutive days after contracting COVID-19.
Lindsey Flint, a fourth-grade teacher at Chevy Chase Elementary School was honored as the 2021 Rising Star Teacher of the Year. The award is given to an educator with less than five years of experience whose “creativity and enthusiasm encourages students to stretch themselves and achieve more.”
The awards are sponsored by the Marian Greenblatt Education Fund.
The Marian Greenblatt Fund, named for a former Board of Education member, recognizes teachers who “inspire their students to achieve, encourage younger teachers to be the best they can be, and help their school and community,” according to an MCPS press release.
The finalists for Teacher of the Year were interviewed by a panel of educators, school board members, MCPS staff members, representatives of the Montgomery County Council of Parent Teacher Associations and a member of the Greenblatt family.
The Teacher of the Year will receive $2,000, and the Rising Star Teacher receives $1,000.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org