Calvert native helps make learning sweet for third graders Craik instructor named Post ‘Teacher of the Year’ finalist
By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU firstname.lastname@example.org
Kelly Lundeen serves a helping of “food for thought” in her third grade classroom at Dr. James E. Craik Elementary.
Lundeen, a Calvert County native, has decorated her class with images of cupcakes, french fries,
burgers and snacks. Lundeen said she’s always been a fan of “junk food” and sweets, and offers treats to her students and fellow teachers.
“I feel like when they come to my classroom, I’m hosting them, giving them something good to eat,” Lundeen said.
Lundeen was recently named the Charles County finalist for the 2017 Washington Post Teacher of the Year Award.
Formerly the Agnes Meyer Teacher of the Year program, the award program now recognizes one pre-kindergarten through 12th grade teacher from each participating school district as a finalist. One overall recipient for a regional award is ultimately chosen by the newspaper.
According to award literature from the Post, the goal of the award is “to recognize excellence in teaching, to encourage creative and quality instruction and to contribute in a substantive way to the improvement of education in the Washington metropolitan area.”
“I’ve only been teaching for six years, and I’m surrounded by such great role models and experienced teachers, so I was surprised,” Lundeen said. “There are so many good teachers in this county who have accomplished so many good things, and I think it is an honor and a privilege to be recognized in this way.”
Lundeen is active in her school community, serving as chairwoman for the events and nomination committees, chess club assistant, teacher mentor and on the school’s Relay For Life, School Climate, Career Day and Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports committees.
Craik Principal Michelle Beckwith said Lundeen is hugely deserving of the award. As a first-year principal, Beckwith said Lundeen showed great leadership in nominating other staff members for awards.
“She’s got great relationships with her students, her parents, and she’s an overall asset to this school,” Beckwith said. “She does a lot at this school that she doesn’t always get recognized for, behind-the-scenes work, and she does what she does because she loves it, and not for the praise, so I thought this was a perfect opportunity to recognize her for all the good work she does.”
Lundeen said she was surprised to learn her principal was nominating her for the award.
“I’m actually in charge of the employee recognition committee, so I’m usually in charge of sending off the paperwork, and so when I went in to ask [Principal Beckwith] about it, I asked her, have you thought who you would like to nominate for this award? And she said, ‘Well, I was thinking of nominating you,’” Lundeen recalled.
Lundeen said it has always been her dream to become a teacher, ever since she was a young girl.
“My favorite thing to play was school,” Lundeen said. “I had a chalkboard, I had a school bag, stickers, the whole nine yards, and my sister and sometimes her friends became my students. It was something I enjoyed, I had a great school experience, and it just came natural. I knew this was what I wanted to do, this is what I’m meant to do.”
After graduating from Frostburg State University, Lundeen began teaching at Craik in 2011 as a first grade teacher. She moved up to third grade a few years later.
“I feel like they’re at the perfect age. They’re old enough to handle things like solving problems, and doing things on their own, but they’re still young, they still love school, love me, love learning,” Lundeen said. “They’re still excited to learn, and that makes me excited to share information with them.”
Lundeen said she works hard to make every student feel valued in her classroom.
“I’m a huge advocate of developing positive relationships with students,” Lundeen said. “I always made sure to be at my door to greet students when they walk in, but I started thinking, how can I make this more personal, more positive? So about two years ago, I started doing secret handshakes. I tell them at the start of the year, that they get to create a special handshake, just for you and I to share, every morning when you come through the door.”
Lundeen held a class “tea party” to help her students learn math vocabulary, or “fancy words” as Lundeen described it to her students.
“We used that ‘fancy word’ idea, and I saw how excited they were about it, so it eventually developed into this tea party where I made a placemat that had different addition and subtraction problems on it; we had little snacks, tablecloths, we made it as fancy as we could,” Lundeen said. “While they were having the tea party and enjoying their snack they had to use some of the words: standard algorithm, sum, difference. To encourage that conversation piece. They loved it. It was such a big deal to them.”
Lundeen said what she loves most about teaching is seeing her students grow in their learning over time.
“It’s seeing the progress. It’s amazing, to see these students who come to me after second grade, and leave as fourth graders, to see them grow throughout the year is so rewarding — to know that you’ve contributed to their learning in such a positive way,” Lundeen said. “I want them to look back on their third grade year and remember how much fun they’ve had in my classroom.”
Dr. James E. Craik Elementary School third grade teacher Kelly Lundeen was named the Charles County finalist in the Washington Post’s 2017 “Teacher of the Year” award.