Meet six local teachers who are making a difference
Sligo Creek Elementary School, Silver Spring
When it’s time to say the Pledge of Allegiance on a morning in May at Sligo Creek Elementary School, students in Genevieve Raze’s kindergarten class put their hands on their hearts and recite it in French.
Last fall, just one of the 27 students in Raze’s class knew a word of the language as they entered her French immersion class. Since that’s all she speaks—all day, in every subject—many of her students think she doesn’t know English.
Kindergarten alone is a big transition; add a new language and it requires even more creativity on the part of the teacher. Raze, 49, is playful in class—dancing, telling jokes and employing different voices for characters as she reads. She and her students use hats, props and stuffed animals to act out stories with a wooden puppet theater in her classroom. “Being silly and funny, you really connect with them,” she says. “In kindergarten, they are kind of little sponges and they absorb the knowledge.”
Raze loved languages from an early age, and her dream was to be an English teacher in France, where she grew up. Instead, she traveled to Oregon for graduate school and became a French teacher in the U.S.
After working as a high school teacher for years, Raze switched to kindergarten two years ago when she took the job at Sligo Creek. Parents point to her teaching ability and warmth as she helps students make huge strides in understanding French by year’s end.
Chi Nguyen of Bethesda, whose daughter, Mai Lan Bui, was in Raze’s first class at Sligo Creek, says this teacher makes a lasting impression on her students. “Madame Raze stands out from the others,” Nguyen says. “She is compassionate with the children and very patient.”
Now in second grade, Zamir Kanthor brings his former kindergarten teacher a card on Valentine’s Day and pops his head into her class some mornings to say hello. Says his mom, Farah Nageer-Kanthor of Silver Spring: “She will always be his favorite.”