Fourth Grade Teacher, Amanda Hammersla, Named MCPS Rising Star Teacher of the Year

by MCS Staff

A teacher at Chevy Chase Elementary School for three years, Amanda Hammersla has been named this year’s Rising Star Teacher of the Year by MCPS. This award honors a teacher in their first, second or third year of teaching. The winner shows a passion for the success of all students, creatively engages students in learning and contributes to a strong, positive partnership among students, staff, parents and the community.

Hammersla believes that students learn best when they are engaged, valued and challenged. She inspires students to take a deep dive into reading with innovative approaches. She turned her classroom into a restaurant while students wore chef hats and sampled new books. She wrote a PTA grant, which brought an author into the classroom virtually while students asked questions. She reads texts in characters’ voices. Through Reader’s Theater, students make costumes and props and perform for peers and families. This helps students develop speaking and listening skills, build fluency and work collaboratively.

Part of her belief in a student-focused philosophy extends to student-led parent conferences, during which she encourages students to identify strengths and needs, a process that helps them set goals. During a lesson about motion, students created roller coasters and tested how hills impacted the distance they traveled. When teaching math, students collected data about the Olympics and created a new city. Hammersla has the ability to incorporate technology into learning for struggling learners. She worked alongside the reading specialist on structured literacy, even allowing her learning to be videotaped so the process could be shared with staff during a professional development session.

Hammersla “makes learning like a real-life adventure,” said a former student. “I get excited about her class and I can see why I am learning what she teaches and how I’m going to use it in real life. She makes me love school!” She also understands the importance of her students’ social-emotional needs. She equips them with strategies for coping with the stressors of everyday life. When students need to decompress and refocus, he classroom has flexible seating and a calm-down corner, which includes fidgets, mindfulness coloring activities and timers.

She keeps parents updated about curriculum and events using the Class Tag App, which provides a translation service for families of English language learners, and a weekly newsletter, which includes pictures of students engaged in learning. Colleagues says Hammersla is an energetic, reflective and inspirational teacher who models creative instruction and motivates students to reach for excellence. Even though she is only a third-year teacher, peers and parents say she possesses the skills and confidence of someone who has been teaching for many years.

She is the fourth grade team leader at Chevy Chase; an instructor in the Cares Club, which offers tutoring in reading and math; and an instructor in Typing Club. She is one of the honorees who will be recognized at the annual Champions for Children celebration in April at BlackRock Center for the Arts in Germantown.

Courtesy of MCPS


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