Sligo Middle School world studies teacher Inge Chichester received the school district’s highest honor during a virtual ceremony on Friday evening.
Praised for her compassion and “fierce advocacy” for her students, Chichester was named the 2020 MCPS Teacher of the Year and will compete for state honors.
“I am honored and I am truly humbled,” an emotional Chichester said during the ceremony. “This recognition means that our system sees us, teachers who work in a school whose demographics mirror that of our own county. … It shows that work is not in vain, that our passion is real and it’s OK that we sacrifice. I vow … to represent all 165,267 students and every last one of the 24,246 staff members with the same vigor I bring to the classroom each and every day.”
In a news release, MCPS wrote that Chichester, who has worked for MCPS for 19 years, is known for her daily routine of greeting students with a bullhorn as they come through the school’s main doors. She talks with students about the importance of self-care and ends conversations with her motto, “I love you to life.”
“Her classroom feels like a family,” MCPS wrote. “In planning meetings, she challenges teachers to be risk takers in the classroom and pushes them to offer lessons that are more than ‘good enough.’ … One teacher called her the ‘contagious positive,’ something you will catch if you hang around her long enough.”
Chichester leads the Silver Spring middle school’s annual career day, coordinates the seventh-grade field trip to Junior Achievement’s Finance Park at Thomas Edison High School of Technology and hosts two AmeriCorps volunteers.
Chichester will be honored at a ceremony in the later summer or early fall at the Bethesda Blues and Jazz Supper Club, according to MCPS.
Other finalists for the Teacher of the Year award were: Annie Moore, a kindergarten teacher at Farmland Elementary School in Rockville and Rodney Van Tassell, a social studies teacher at Winston Churchill High School in Potomac.
The Marian Greenblatt Education Fund, a local organization founded in 1989 that recognizes “exceptional teachers,” named the finalists. Greenblatt served on the county Board of Education from 1976 to 1984.
Hallie Wells Middle School teacher Madeline Hanington was last year’s MCPS Teacher of the Year honoree.
Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org