A teacher at Dynard Elementary School received a state award for excelling at teaching math to students.
“It’s nice to know I’m doing a good job of that, especially in math, because it’s something I have a passion for,” Lynsey Hayden, a 10-year Dynard teacher, said.
Hayden, who teaches a few different subjects but favors math, was given the elementary teacher award by the Maryland Council of Teachers of Mathematics out of the four other awards offered: the beginning teacher award, the middle school teacher award, the high school teacher award and the teacher leader award.
She was the only winner who was not from Howard County, but the 32-year-old said her excitement mostly came from being selected out of all eligible elementary school teachers. “Wow, they picked one elementary school teacher, and I was that one,” she said she remembers thinking at the time of the announcement.
Hayden, a St. Mary’s native, grew up in Hollywood and attended St. John’s Catholic School and St. Mary’s Ryken High School. She received her bachelor’s degree from St. Mary’s College of Maryland in 2008 and completed its master of arts in teaching program the following year.
“I always wanted to be a teacher,” Dynard’s 2016 teacher of the year said. She remembers dressing up like a teacher for career day when she was younger with a teacher kit from her grandmother, who also made her a necklace out of Shrinky Dinks toys.
Dynard Principal J.R. Beavers said Hayden exemplifies everything a math teacher should be. He called her a community favorite and an outstanding colleague.
“The fact that she is the only recipient from Southern Maryland, it’s an incredibly proud moment for us,” Beavers said.
The principal added that he also nominated Hayden for SMECO math teacher of the year. “And when she didn’t get that I felt bad, because I really know how awesome she is,” Beavers said.
Although Hayden teaches all subjects, she “always connected with math more,” she said. “I also think it’s easier to connect it with the real world like, ‘why do you need to know this?’”
One of the real-world assignments she gave her third-graders was to plan a party by looking at the store prices online. The students had to figure out how much plates, for example, would cost if they needed a certain amount.
The math teacher also helps plan math night, which happens once a year at a grocery store in Leonardtown. Students can come in and receive a grade-level specific packet. The third grade packet, for example, gave the recipe for crock pot applesauce. Students were tasked to find the ingredients in the store then add up how much it would cost to make.
She’s always wanted to teach elementary school. She taught second grade for three years and third grade for seven.
“I love that kids love to learn,” Hayden said. “They have that curiosity about them. They want to know about everything that’s happening.”
Hayden recalled Beavers asking at the beginning of the year if she wanted to apply for the award. She was required to fill out a form, submit two references and write two essays.
In her first essay she had to explain how her experiences in the past three years helped enhanced her professional growth. She said she credits her growth to the colleagues she’s collaborated with and the information and knowledge she’s learned from them. She even learned from the student teachers at St. Mary’s College who assisted her in her classroom — a position she once had when she was in college.
An example she gave of her professional growth was when she applied to be a national board certified teacher. She had to reflect on her practices as a teacher and how she can improve them. “I learned a lot about myself,” she said.
In the second essay, Hayden had to describe her beliefs in student learning in mathematics. She said, in math especially, students learn best when they are actually doing hands-on activities and applying it to the real world.
“I think anytime you apply it to real life … they are going to be engaged and willing to use it,” Hayden said about math.
In April, she made it through the first round of the MCTM application process, which meant she had to send the council a video recording of her teaching a detailed lesson plan in the classroom. Beavers said he quickly volunteered to hold the camera.
Hayden said students were tasked to find the area of rectilinear figures. During the recording, students critiqued the anonymous work of their classmates to figure out what was right and what was wrong.
In June, she found out she won. “It is nice to be recognized, to know you’re doing a good job because I guess that’s my main goal,” she said.