Teacher of the Year Makes it Personal
CHESTERTOWN, MD—Thirteen years after she graduated from Queen Anne’s County High School in Maryland, Marlo Coppage ’04 was nominated as one of its best teachers and went on to be named the 2013 Teacher of the Year for the entire Queen Anne’s County school system.
A native of Church Hill, in Queen Anne’s County, Coppage has been a math teacher at the high school for seven years. She took a variety of education courses as she completed her bachelor’s degree in mathematics at Washington College and says she uses what she learned from her professors every day on the job. “The Washington College education department prepared me for my role in the classroom by making me consider my lessons from the students’ point of view,” she says, “and to know them as people, too.”
Coppage makes it a point to learn about her students’ lives—the activities they enjoy, the music they listen to, the TV shows they watch—and incorporate their interests into warm-ups and lessons. “I have been able to connect with more of my students who didn’t really care for math because I could find another way to get through to them,” she says.
QACHS Principal Jacquelyn Wilhelm told the Kent County News that Coppage works to make sure that even the students who are not naturally gifted in math are able to persevere and succeed. “She recognizes those students who need the extra help [and] need the extra encouragement, and she’s right there all the time giving it to them,” she added.
After graduating from Washington College, Coppage spent two years teaching at Kent County High School before returning to Queen Anne’s. Along with her full-time job teaching high-school students, she has been an adjunct professor at her alma mater, and at nearby Chesapeake Community College. She also has mentored Washington College teaching interns in her classroom.
Coppage is pleased with the recent push for more science and math-based activities in classrooms across the country. “Every job uses some type of math in it, and I am glad that education leaders, and Maryland’s specifically, are requiring more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) training of teachers and students,” she says.
“I know the Washington College education program is still challenging and pushing students to understand the workload that teachers have,” she adds. “I love how Washington gives the education students several opportunities to experience a classroom setting before they are fully committed to the teaching program. The only way to know if you can handle teaching is if you sit in a classroom.”