Rawlings named Laurel School District Teacher of the Year

By Mike McClure

Kara Rawlings, a kindergarten specials teacher at Paul Laurence Dunbar Elementary School, will represent her school and school district in the state teacher of the year program next Fall. Rawlings was recently announced as the districts 2015 Teacher of the Year.

It feels great. Ive received lots of praise, lots of nice comments, Rawlings said. Everybodys showing me the love.

Rawlings is in her 11th year as a teacher, all at P.L. Dunbar. She likes the idea of representing her school.

I am proud to represent Dunbar. Dunbars a happy place. I am absolutely pleased to work here. I love my job, said Rawlings. We call it (staff) our Dunbar family and thats definitely what it is.

Rawlings teaches kindergarten specials, a program that is unique. Instead of having different specialists, Rawlings teaches the students in a variety of areas including: rhyme and rhythm, book it, computer, boost up, arts and crafts, and 3m (me, myself, and my health).

This allows the students to have a routine and gives Rawlings a chance to teach the students every day in a variety of subject areas. While the classes can be large at times, Rawlings says they are manageable.

Rawlings, a native of Crofton, Md. (near Annapolis), came to the area to go to school at Salisbury University and has lived here with her husband, William, since 2000,

The couple has two daughters: Lucy, nine, and Kacie, five. Even before she became a teacher, Kara enjoyed working with children.

I always liked working with children. I worked in daycare and kindergarten before (teaching), Rawlings reflected. I love the little guys, they make you smile.

Rawlings enjoys working with young children because of the joy and excitement they show when they are learning something new.

Anything you present to them theyre excited about. Theyre so excited to learn new things. Theyre so eager to let you know theyre doing things, said Rawlings. Its nice to know that youre getting through.

Kara wasnt too sure about vying for the Teacher of the Year honors. She credits guidance Sharon Dolby with helping her get over her initial hesitance.

I was a little hesitant to do it. I was a little shy. She really encouraged me. She told me you need to do it, Rawlings said. Im glad she pushed me outside of the box.

Even the judging, in which the judges come into a teachers classroom, wasnt as bad as Rawlings thought it would be. Eight people came into her classroom, but it didnt disrupt her or her students. Once we started our lesson we didnt really pay much attention. We just did our thing, said Rawlings.

Rawlings philosophy is simple: keep it fun because thats how they learn. And putting it to a tune doesnt hurt either. They remember anything if it goes to a song, Rawlings added.

The districts other Tteachers of the Year are: David Baker, Laurel High School; Kim Ralph, Laurel Intermediate Middle School; and Billie Davenport, North Laurel Elementary School.

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