D.C. 2017 Teacher of the Year surprised with award

D.C. 2017 Teacher of the Year surprised with award (ABC7)

A D.C. middle school teacher - dedicated to increasing student literacy - was surprised Monday morning with recognition as the District's 2017 Teacher of the Year.

Elizabeth Dewhurst is a reading intervention teacher at Stuart-Hobson Middle School. She was completely overwhelmed when District leaders and TV cameras stormed her classroom.

“I am completely blown away. My hands are still shaking,” she said a few minutes after receiving the award.

The State Superintendent of Education Hanseul Kang said Dewhurst was selected because of her outstanding performance increasing skill levels in her eighth-grade reading intervention courses. The classes help students two or more grade levels behind in reading comprehension catch up with their peers.

“This teacher has built student's reading up two, three, four and sometimes even five years over the course of 18 months to two years," Deputy Mayor for Education Jennifer Niles said.

Principal Dawn Clemens said Dewhurst is a successful educator because she celebrates even the smallest successes of her students.

“[Her students] can tell you how many books they've read, how many hours they've read, how many pages they've read,” Clemens said.

The OSSE panel of judges felt Dewhurst deserved the special recognition not just because of the unique curriculum in her own classroom but also because she's been working school-wide to increase literacy.

“She gives of herself for three weeks every single summer and she does reading from eight [o’clock] in the morning until noon,” Clemens said.

“Teachers like Miss Dewhurst are absolutely the reason why D.C. has made so much progress over the last few years,” Kang said.

Dewhurst’s students said her class has also changed the way they think about reading.

“I'm very happy for her to be honest,” said 13-year-old Seth Henderson. “Because she worked so hard to get this award.”

Dewhurst will now represent the District in the National Teacher of the Year competition. She will also have to decide how to spend the cash prize that comes with the award: $7500.

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