New Town High School educator Orly Mondell chosen as 2015-16 BCPS Teacher of the Year

TOWSON, MD. – Orly Mondell, an 11-year educator who teaches social studies and serves as the Grade 9 coordinator at New Town High School in Owings Mills, is Baltimore County’s newest Teacher of the Year.

Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance named Mondell the 2015-16 Baltimore County Teacher of the Year during a ceremony this evening at George Washington Carver Center for Arts and Technology in Towson.

“Orly Mondell brings an energy and dedication to her classroom and to her students that is rare and exceptional,” Dr. Dance said. “She understands that great teaching is all about making connections and creating bonds between student and teacher. She reaches her students the same way she reaches her own children – with caring, with patience, with high expectations, and with love. It is inspiring to see her ferocious commitment to her students and their success. Congratulations to her and to all of our 154 nominated teachers and finalists.”

At the same ceremony, Dr. Dance named Jennifer Mullenax, principal at Halstead Academy in Towson, as the school system’s 2015-16 Principal of the Year.

As Baltimore County’s newest Teacher of the Year, Mondell becomes among both the most visible educators in the county and state. Representing nearly 9,000 educators for the next year, she will compete for the honor of Maryland State Teacher of the Year and appear in dozens of venues to champion teaching and the school system.

In addition to teaching government to high schoolers, Mondell acts as a liaison for Grade 9 students at New Town, supporting each student as the class becomes acclimated to high school; she calls herself a “resident ‘mom’” to the freshman class. She is active with her synagogue, the Pikesville Schools Coalition, Summit Park PTA, and her family. She has taught at New Town High all seven years of her Baltimore County teaching career, and from 2004-2008, she taught at the Bronx School for Law, Government, and Justice in New York.

“Helping students find their voice and their story is integral to inspiring them to reach their full potential. These stories shape how they learn and who they will become. Being an educator is more than just delivering information or facilitating activities; it is who I am – the storyteller and the story’s audience,” Mondell wrote in her application for Teacher of the Year.

“As educators, we must inspire students to think, question, and debate by developing student-centered learning environments where students feel it is safe to take risks. We must inspire and empower students to dream big and take the steps necessary to cultivate their story into the one they want to be told instead of the one they have been dealt.”

In addition to Mondell, six other finalists were honored during Wednesday’s ceremony. They are:

  • Ellen Beckstrom, an ESOL teacher at Reisterstown Elementary School in Reisterstown
  • Kathryn Brave, an advanced academics resource teacher at Hernwood Elementary School in Randallstown
  • Jessica Cybulski, a Grade 2 classroom teacher at Woodholme Elementary School in Pikesville
  • Kathleen Davis, a Grade 6 mathematics teacher at Dundalk Middle School in Dundalk
  • Samuel Georgieff, a visual arts teacher at Cockeysville Middle School in Cockeysville
  • R. Christopher Rose, a performing arts teacher and director at Hereford High School in Parkton

“The teachers we honor today as finalists represent the best of what we want in our teachers in Baltimore County schools,” said Dr. Dance. “They come to their classrooms as talented motivators and experienced learners. They model what it means to strive for and achieve the kinds of 21st century skills and talents we want for all students. Above all, they care deeply about the children they teach.”

The Teacher of the Year receives a variety of awards and gifts from the school system, the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools, and Baltimore County’s business community, including a $1,000 gift for classroom supplies and technology, a $1,000 cash award, 40-inch flat-screen television, laptop computer and a personalized iPad, memberships to Brick Bodies’ fitness centers, tickets to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and Baltimore Orioles, attendance at a professional development conference,  dedicated personalized parking spot at school, $500 in school library resources, and gift certificates for restaurants, spa treatments, and movie showings.

The BCPS Teacher and Principal of the Year program thanks sponsors NTA Life and the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools as well as donors including the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Brick Bodies, Discovery Education, Hewlett-Packard, and The Food Market.