|Release Date: 4/30/2014|
TOWSON, MD. – He did it.
Sean McComb, an eight-year educator from Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts whose difficult childhood propelled him to find the inspiration to teach, is the 2014 National Teacher of the Year.
McComb, 30, was one of four finalists for becoming the nation’s top teacher after being named Maryland’s Teacher of the Year last October and Baltimore County’s Teacher of the Year on May 6 last year.
“As a teacher, I have always found my validation in my students first – their learning, their engagement in our work and in their words of appreciation," McComb said. “But personally, this is an incredible validation for each time I made a choice to do a little more for a student."
The Council of Chief State School Officers announced McComb’s selection during a “CBS This Morning" segment today to reveal the national winner. President Barack Obama will introduce McComb as the 64th National Teacher of the Year during a White House ceremony at 2 p.m. on Thursday, May 1. The Joppa resident is the third Maryland teacher since 2006 to win the national honor and the first in Baltimore County history.
“This is a role in which I am humbled and honored to serve educators. I am the child of two educators; I am married to an educator. Teachers definitively changed my life during a time of need," McComb said, alluding to a childhood impacted both by his mother’s alcoholism and the teachers who inspired him to devote his life to teaching.
“I work with an incredible staff at Patapsco who inspire me, and I learn from my students every day. I understand the importance of being a teacher and hope to serve the profession well."
McComb, his family, and state and BCPS educators led by Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance are in Washington this week for events surrounding the announcement, including the White House ceremony.
“Sean is a gifted and giving teacher, and Team BCPS is proud that one of our own has been recognized for this tremendous national honor," Dance said. “We are privileged to have him as a teacher at Patapsco and in Baltimore County, and we are happy to share his talents and his wisdom on a much larger stage. Now the nation is his classroom."
Added Lawrence Schmidt, president of the Board of Education of Baltimore County, “This is an exciting and energizing moment not only for Sean, his family and students, and his school, but for all of Baltimore County and Maryland. We know how great our teachers are in BCPS, and now, through Sean, the rest of the country will learn what it means to have great teaching and a great school system."
Maryland Superintendent of Schools Dr. Lillian Lowery also is accompanying McComb to Washington. “I have enjoyed getting to know Sean the past several months, learning about his passion for his students and his belief in their success," she said. “Sean’s students will tell you that they believe he genuinely cares, never giving up on them and paving the way for their success. He’s the consummate educator, going above and beyond to make certain his students are ready for their futures."
As National Teacher of the Year, McComb will spend the next year travelling the nation and the world and representing public school teachers at more than 150 events. But his thoughts this week have been characteristically deferential regarding the national honor; the award, he says, is a reflection of the support he has received at Patapsco and in Baltimore County.
“I hope that our students at Patapsco, the school community, and particularly my colleagues see this as a testament to the culture of caring that exists in that building," McComb said. “It has been their daily efforts that inspire my own. Teachers across BCPS and the nation are doing inspiring work to support students, to help them fulfill their potential and to inspire them to be their best. It is meaningful and important work."
Student Rebecca Jacobs knows how important her teacher has been to her. “Mr. McComb has always encouraged me throughout high school to go beyond my potential," she said. “I was a student who didn’t always believe in myself, and he has really helped me come out of my shell."
Added student Alisha Garrison, “Mr. McComb is a fantastic teacher. He always takes a part in our lives and does his best to help us in any way he can."
A native of King of Prussia, Pa., McComb came to Baltimore County Public Schools in 2006 after earning a bachelor of arts in English literature from the University of Pittsburgh. As an English teacher at Patapsco in Dundalk, he became the school’s coordinator of the AVID program in 2007. AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, encourages empowerment for students in the academic middle.
“Sean’s work ethic, dedication to his students, professional approach to teaching, and impeccable moral character truly make him a fantastic choice for National Teacher of the Year," said Patapsco’s principal, Craig Reed. “The students and staff at Patapsco High School and Center for the Arts could not be happier that Mr. McComb has been named National Teacher of the Year. His passion for teaching truly represents the fantastic work that happens every day at our school."
McComb earned a masters degree in English education from the University of Pittsburgh in 2008 and holds a School Improvement Leadership Certificate from Goucher College in Towson. In addition to teaching AVID, he currently serves as staff development teacher at Patapsco, where he helps to coordinate staff development activities and nurture teacher growth. He has coached tennis and track at Patapsco, and in 2012, he visited China as part of the school system’s cultural exchange program. Until 2011, he captained a men’s elite ultimate Frisbee club team in Washington, D.C.
McComb and his wife, Sarah, who also teaches at Patapsco High School, celebrated the birth of their first child, Silas, earlier this year.
The National Teacher of the Year Program is run by the Council of Chief State School Officers, which selects a national winner from among all state teachers of the year. A CCSSO panel representing 15 national education organizations chose four finalists from the 2014 state teachers of the year and conducted interviews with each of the finalists.