M.Ed. alumna named local Teacher of the Year
The honor represents the second time in two years that the Alamance-Burlington School System has given an Elon grad its top award.
By Kellye Coleman '12
Molly Ellington, a third-grade teacher at Alexander Wilson Elementary School and 2008 graduate of Elon University’s Master of Education program, this fall was named the 2011-12 Alamance-Burlington School System Teacher of the Year.
It is the second year in a row that a graduate from the Master of Education program has received the honor.
“When I found out, I was just shocked. You do the best you can every day,” Ellington said. “I never imagined it would go this far.”
School of Education leaders at the university say Ellington’s award reflects the strong partnership that has developed between Elon and the Alamance-Burlington School System.
“We work on a great number of collaborative projects, but one of the longest-running and most important ones is our joint commitment to the preparation of outstanding teachers,” said David Cooper, dean of Elon’s School of Education.
Ellington has been teaching at Alexander Wilson for eight years, and her knowledge and dedication have positively impacted the school community, said Cynthia McKee, Alexander Wilson principal.
“She is a true team leader, and in that sense, she provides professional development for our staff,” she said. “Molly’s sense of communication, whether it be with students, faculty or parents, is tremendous.”
A native of Alamance County, Ellington discovered her love for teaching in high school, working with the summer daycare program at Alexander Wilson, where she once walked the halls as a student.
“It was the first time I was able to work with children on a more academic level,” she said, and watching students’ “light bulb” moments, in which they understood and connected with material, inspired her to pursue education.
She attended the UNC Chapel Hill as a North Carolina Teaching Fellow and began teaching third-grade at Alexander Wilson upon graduation in 2004.
“When I was teaching I would get things in the mail from the M.Ed. program,” Ellington said. “I knew Elon had a great program,” and the portion of summer classes was a perfect fit.
According to Ellington, Elon’s program allowed her to explore new ways to approach teaching and teamwork.
“In our time at Elon, we spent a lot of time collaborating with other teachers,” she said. “When you really start looking at educational research and your own practice, you begin taking your teaching to a new level. I’ve been much more effective as far as reaching all of my students.”
For Ellington, teaching has provided immense challenges.
“There are just so many things on teachers’ plates that people don’t always realize,” she said. “When you have 20 different students in the room, and they have their own perspectives, it’s a challenge to reach them all where they are.”
However, the opportunity to build relationships and help students reach their potential drives her to continue her work. “It’s really rewarding when you see a child succeed and they understand that they’ve succeeded,” she said.
Although the award of ABBS teacher of the year is an honor, it is one Ellington says she doesn’t take lightly. “I feel a huge sense of responsibility, because I’m representing a lot of teachers who are working hard,” she said.
Could Ellington be following in Tyronna Hooker’s footsteps towards North Carolina Teacher of the Year? Hooker, a 2009 alumna of the School of Education’s Masters program, received the award in 2010.
“Those are hard shoes to fill. Tyronna has an incredible story and is just a very humble person,” Ellington said. “She has been so helpful for me along the process.”
As the ABSS Teacher of the Year, Ellington receives $2,000, while her school, Alexander Wilson Elementary, received $1,000.