Meet Kenwood Teacher of the Year Elleigh Gardner

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Meet Kenwood Teacher of the Year Elleigh Gardner

Ms. Gardner participating in the TP a teacher activity at the annual pep rally.

Ms. Gardner participating in the TP a teacher activity at the annual pep rally.

Ms. Gardner participating in the TP a teacher activity at the annual pep rally.

Ms. Gardner participating in the TP a teacher activity at the annual pep rally.

Luvia Thomas

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Each year every Baltimore County school nominates one teacher for BCPS Teacher of the Year. Kenwood’s nomination this year was Ms. Elleigh Gardner. Gardner has been teaching for seven years, since 2012.  She completed her student teaching in Arkansas, and Kenwood was the first placement of her teaching career.

“It means so much to be nominated as Teacher of the Year in the place I’ve really ‘learned’ to be a teacher,” said Gardner.

In the seven years she’s been at Kenwood, Gardner has taught English 9-10, Theatre I-IV, SAT Prep, AP Psychology, and IB Psychology. For the current 2018-2019 school year she taught Theatre I-III, SAT Prep, and IB Psychology. She has been Kenwood’s Drama Sponsor since 2013 and has directed a total of 12 productions.

I interviewed Gardner after her nomination. A lightly-edited version of our conversation is below.

Thomas: Is this your first time receiving this award?

Gardner: It is!

Thomas: What do you think sets you apart from other teachers?

Gardner: Hmm… That’s really hard because we have a lot of amazing teachers in this building — teachers that work super hard and are doing everything that they can to really help students engage and be involved. So honestly, I don’t really know what sets me apart. But I’m glad to be in good company with some amazing staff members here.

Thomas: Do you feel as though all your hard work has paid off, or is there still more you want to achieve?

Gardner: I think there’s always more because every year we meet new students — students that need different things to be successful because the world changes. So, I don’t think there’s ever a point as a teacher where you’re like, ‘Alright, I’m done.’ I think you’re always evolving, you’re always training, you’re always trying to learn. So, I think an important part of being an educator is being a lifelong learner.

Thomas: How does it feel knowing that you were nominated?

Gardner: It’s very exciting. I felt very humbled, and I don’t like to call attention to myself, and so it was sort of weird to have everybody go, ‘Oh, congratulations!’ But it made me feel really good. I felt like a ‘I’m doing what I need to be doing’ kind of thing.

Thomas: Is there anything you’d like to say about how the year went?

Gardner: I think the year was amazing! We had two really really awesome productions with “Our Town” and “Beauty and the Beast,” which have had the most involvement and the best attendance so that was awesome. I think our school as a whole is doing really great things. I think we are doing a really good job interacting with the community, and I think that every year we just get better and better.

Thomas: Last question: what pushes you to strive for greatness as a teacher?

Ms. Gardner:  It really is the students. Because like I said, my whole job is trying to prepare students for after graduation. And you know the world is changing every single day. So every day is never the same day as before. Even every year is completely different. And so, just making sure that I’m doing what I need to do to make sure that I meet everybody’s needs equally, I think that’s what really helps me strive. My favorite thing about teaching is really just the relationships that I make with the students because I like seeing them get something, or like seeing them finally get that scene, or the pride they feel when they’re like “ I never thought I could do this and I’m doing it !” I just love to see that.