It’s teacher appreciation week: U.Md. showed lots of love to 3 alums

It’s teacher appreciation week: U.Md. showed lots of love to 3 alums

It was a quick and not too quiet march down the hallway at Samuel Ogle Middle School in Bowie, Maryland, where the dean of the University of Maryland’s College of Education was joined by faculty and others from the university for a surprise teacher appreciation week visit to one of their own.

Pedro Gonzalez, a Spanish teacher at Ogle, didn’t see it coming. As someone played the school’s victory song to disrupt his class, Gonzalez started to tear up as Dean Kimberly Griffin sang his praises.

“We were told about all the wonderful things you do and all of the ways you show up for these kids,” she said. They were there to “say thank you for all the work that you do.”

The thanks came in the form of a gift basket with Maryland-related gear and apparel, much of it from businesses owned by other Maryland alums. Then she started acknowledging the amount of money teachers spend out of their own pockets to help educate their kids.

“So we’re hoping to put a little something in your pocket,” she said.

When he saw the check for $1,000, he said, “I feel like I should be giving this back to you, y’all are going to be asking for it anyway,” as the room broke out into laughter.

“I don’t know what I did to deserve this,” he said. “This is something I’ve been doing for so long. I don’t feel deserving of it. I feel like a regular teacher. I feel like I come in and do my job every day and I love it.”

When he was told that other alums from the College of Education suggested Gonzalez as a worthy recipient, he said it was “wild,” before suggesting other teachers more deserving.

“I can think about plenty of teachers that are probably more deserving of this,” he said.

“Everybody’s got a favorite teacher,” Griffin said. “Everybody can really think about the impact teachers have on our lives, but so often we don’t say ‘thank you,’ and it’s teacher appreciation week and so we wanted to say ‘thank you’ in a really big way.”

His students benefited, too, after surprising him with posters expressing their appreciation.

“I do have extra credit points that I give them and they’ll definitely get some. All right, all of y’all go get some ‘G-bucks!’” he yelled out. “They get extra credit points when they do good things in the class and so they’ve earned that today.”

Gonzalez was the third teacher honored Wednesday by UMD. The school also brought similar surprise gift packages to Jeimy Amaya, from International High School in Langley Park, and Alexis Cutler, who teaches at Tyler Heights Elementary in Annapolis.

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John Domen

John started working at WTOP in 2016 after having grown up in Maryland listening to the station as a child. While he got his on-air start at small stations in Pennsylvania and Delaware, he's spent most of his career in the D.C. area, having been heard on several local stations before coming to WTOP.

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