Eleanor Goodwin, a Churchill English teacher, once planned on becoming a medical doctor. She began to change her mind as a pre-med student at the University of Maryland, as the science courses grew more technical. Goodwin began thinking of her volunteer work, especially her tutoring and GED prep work.
Ten years after Goodwin began teaching English at Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS), she was recognized as the Teacher of the Year by the Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education in the Champions for Children Gala in the Hyatt Regency Bethesda May 5.
IN HER SEVENTH year teaching at Churchill, Goodwin teaches AP English for seniors and one class for sophomores. Prior to Churchill, Goodwin taught for three years at Einstein that were essential to formulating her teaching approach, she said. “The kids at Einstein were the ones that made me realize that you really have to connect the text to everyday life… and make it relevant to them.”
Goodwin began teaching a multidisciplinary approach to English courses. Many of the texts she teaches in AP courses are required, but Goodwin brings history, philosophy, and popular culture issues into the equation as well.
Think PlayStation games bear no connection to Ralph Ellison’s “The Invisible Man”? Many of Goodwin’s students see one. Where Ellison wrote about the dangers of categorical, black-and-white thinking, Goodwin teaches how many popular computer games can teach a similar mentality. “The kids will bring their own pieces in that relate to that idea,” Goodwin said, and hopes that “my students can engage in computer games teaching a black-and-white world, and then come out of it and see it for what it is.”
“She probably is the most intellectual person I’ve ever met,” said Churchill senior Katherine McPherson, a student in Goodwin’s AP English class. “I feel as though she has a genuine interest in making sure we think for ourselves.”
CHURCHILL SENIOR TERRY TAM agrees. A former student of Goodwin’s, Tamm wrote an essay in praise of Goodwin that was submitted to the MCBRE. “She will casually insert a few comments here and there, but she does not force her own philosophy on anyone,” Tamm wrote. “One of the most impressive things about her is that she listens to each and every student opinion as if it has merit, and she considers each individual student capable of seeing things from angles that she could not.”
McPherson, who also performs in Churchill’s Show-Stoppers show choir and plays varsity field hockey, says she often relates what she is doing after school to ideas she learned in Goodwin’s class. On the other end, Goodwin is aware of each student’s extracurricular involvement. “Her connection to students is not limited to 45 minutes,” McPherson said.
Goodwin attended the awards dinner with her husband, Alan Goodwin, principal of Pyle Middle School, and their sons Michael, a Richard Montgomery junior, and Christopher, an 8th-grader at Earle Wood M.S. in Rockville. Goodwin received a hand-held computer, two computers for her school, $2,000 and a one-year lease on a car or minivan for her award.