Calvert na­tive helps make learn­ing sweet for third graders Craik in­struc­tor named Post ‘Teacher of the Year’ fi­nal­ist

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By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

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.

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