In 2004, upon the retirement of Christie Owen, her husband and family established the Christie Owen Excellence in Teaching Award.
This program is designed to recognize and reward a kind of approach to teaching over time – the kind of cultural attitude about our profession that Christie not only held but that she tried to nurture in our school in her years of service as head of Lower School.
These qualities include:
- The teacher will have demonstrated a passion for what (s)he teaches.
- The teacher will have demonstrated a commitment to his/her professional development.
- The teacher is committed enough to excellence to take risks, be innovative, and try new approaches to teaching and learning.
- The teacher will be an actively positive peer influence, sharing new ideas and working to support colleagues and the school.
This beloved and well-respected educator has long been recognized by students and colleagues alike as a passionate and popular teacher who holds high academic standards while making learning fun. This teacher has long been noted for keeping an even keel in the midst of seeming chaos and for bringing a healthy dose of humor to the situation.
I think one of the reasons that this outstanding teacher has not received this recognition before is because of how hard this teacher works to NOT get credit. IN the words of one colleague, “This teacher is extremely unassuming, constantly seeking to do things for others beyond the call of duty – for students, colleagues, and parents – while working to not get any credit or recognition.”
This humility is somehow related to trustworthiness. People feel as though they can go to this teacher at any time for anything.
As a teacher, this colleague has a uniquely singular focus and commitment: to get them prepared for whatever may come next. That determination explains the work ethic, but also the growth mindset. Honestly, staying fresh in teaching and in life seems as natural as breathing to this one who is constantly applying new ideas but also sharing them with colleagues across grade levels and disciplines.
Grounded in the kind of wisdom and common sense that come from experience, this teacher is a rock, often the voice of reason, bringing us back to the core reality.
Interestingly, her powerful influence throughout the school is so cloaked in gentleness, kindness, faith, and unconditional love and respect that it is sometimes more noticeable in her absence.
You would be hard-pressed to find a teacher who embodies Mrs. Owens’s four criteria any more
Well done, selection committee, in presenting this year’s Christie Owen Excellence in Teaching Award to the person one colleague described as “ The Heart of Middle School,” Mrs. Dana McGill!