Craik Ele­men­tary in­struc­tor named CCPS Teacher of the Year

Will com­pete for state ti­tle in fall

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

Jil­lian Durr’s third grade stu­dents are “busy as bees,” and for her work in the class­room, this “queen bee” has been named Charles County Pub­lic School’s 2016 Teacher of the Year.

Durr, who is in her ninth year of teach­ing at Dr. James Craik Ele­men­tary School, will go on to com­pete against can­di­dates from each school dis­trict in the state in the Mary­land State De­part­ment of Education’s com­pe­ti­tion to de­ter­mine the Mary­land Teacher of the Year, the win­ner of which will be an­nounced next fall.

Last month, Kevin Barry of La Plata High School was cho­sen by the Wash­ing­ton Post as its 2016 Charles County Teacher of the Year, a sep­a­rate com­pe­ti­tion for­merly known as the Agnes Meyer Dis­tin­guished Teacher Award.

Durr’s class­room is filled with bee im­ages; Durr said she be­gan us­ing bees as a metaphor in her class­room dur­ing her time stu­dent teach­ing and has con­tin­ued to do so ever since.

“I have two goals in my class­room, for the stu­dents to be sweet and hard­work­ing, like the honey bee,” Durr said. “I tie it into the class­room. This is our hive, we need to work to­gether. We need to al­ways be try­ing our best, be hard­work- ing, but at the same time, we need to make sure we are re­spect­ful of oth­ers and re­spect­ful of our­selves, and I feel that those two things will help the kids re­mem­ber, and it’s a fun anal­ogy for them as well.”

Durr, a Pennsylvania na­tive, grad­u­ated from what is now Mis­eri­cor­dia Univer­sity in Dal­las, Pa., in 2007. When she came to teach at Craik that year, she in­tended to only teach one year, then move back to Pennsylvania, but she said

she fell in love with the school and stayed.

“The plan was I was just go­ing to stay one year and teach, but I fell in love with the school and the whole county and the area, and now, nine years later, here I am,” Durr said. “I couldn’t see my­self any­where else.”

Durr taught sec­ond grade her first year, but moved to third grade at the advice of her prin­ci­pal at the time. Durr said she es­pe­cially likes be­ing able to teach third grade.

“I just love it. So many stud­ies show [third grade] is the most im­por­tant grade for stu­dents to do well in and re­ally flour­ish, and so I feel like this is ex­actly where I need to be,” Durr said.

Durr said she has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can re­mem­ber.

“My par­ents say that my first day home from kinder­garten, I was talk­ing about school and said that I wanted to be a teacher,” Durr said. “That’s one thing my par­ents said I’ve never once changed my mind from.”

Durr said her own teach­ers helped in­spire her and mold her into be­com­ing a teacher her­self.

“I just lucked out in hav­ing such amaz­ing teach­ers who fos­tered such an in­ter­est in learn­ing in me that I just couldn’t wait for an op­por­tu­nity to be able to do that for other kids,” Durr said.

Craik Prin­ci­pal De­bra Calvert said Durr was nom­i­nated by the em­ployee recog­ni­tion com­mit­tee, which is com­posed of staff mem­bers.

“I’m re­ally ex­cited about her re­ceiv­ing this award. She is re­ally de­serv­ing of this recog­ni­tion,” Calvert said. “It was very easy to see from the be­gin­ning of my ten­ure here that she is a fan­tas­tic teacher. She sets very high ex­pec­ta­tions for her stu­dents, but she works to help them achieve those ex­pec­ta­tions.”

Durr said she is hon­ored and hum­bled by the Teacher of the Year recog­ni­tion.

“There are so many amaz­ing teach­ers in this school, so when [Prin­ci­pal Calvert] said she wanted to nom­i­nate me, I was shocked,” Durr said. “I just feel that ev­ery sin­gle teacher at this school is won­der­ful and de­serves this, and even at the county level, we are just so blessed to have so many amaz­ing teach­ers.”

Durr said one of the great­est de­lights of be­ing a teacher is be­ing able to hear from her for­mer stu­dents who of­ten come back and tell her what they are do­ing. Her first stu­dents are now in the mid­dle of high school.

“I al­ways look for­ward to those up­dates,” Durr said.

Durr said she is work­ing to­wards com­plet­ing her mas­ter’s de­gree in ad­min­is­tra­tion and hopes to be­come a school ad­min­is­tra­tor one day.

“I still want to be a class­room teacher for some time, I’m not ready to give that up yet,” Durr said. “But I feel if I can be an ad­min­is­tra­tor, I’ll have the abil­ity to af­fect more stu­dents than just my class­room. I’d have the abil­ity to af­fect the whole cli­mate, have a pos­i­tive im­pact on ev­ery class­room.”

Durr said she sees her role as teacher as a fa­cil­i­ta­tor of learn­ing.

“I pro­vide them with the topic and the re­sources, but then they take it to a whole new level,” Durr said. “By cre­at­ing the en­vi­ron­ment, the learn­ing hap­pens on its own.”


Jil­lian Durr, a nine-year teach­ing vet­eran at Dr. James Craik Ele­men­tary School, helps Em­ma­lyn Fet­ters come up with ideas for a writ­ing as­sign­ment. Stu­dents pre­tended to be broad­cast­ers read­ing from a news re­port about the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay. Durr, a third-grade teacher, was named the 2016 Teacher of the Year.

Jil­lian Durr, left, is in­ter­viewed by her stu­dents Jay Bivens, cen­ter, and Heidi Daniel­son for a writ­ing as­sign­ment dur­ing which stu­dents acted as broad­cast­ers. Durr, a third-grade teacher at Dr. James Craik Ele­men­tary School, was named the 2016 Charles County Teacher of the Year.


Ni­co­las Reid, left, goes over an as­sign­ment with his teacher, Jil­lian Durr, who was named the 2016 Charles County Teacher of the Year.

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