Assistant principal honored for leadership
In Michael Powell's family, "you're either a preacher or a teacher," said Powell, an assistant principal at Patuxent Elementary School in Upper Marlboro.
With 10 years of experience as a math and science teacher at Morningside and Patuxent elementary schools, and his current job as an administrator, Powell has carried on the family legacy and achieved high honors for his work in the classroom and behind the scenes.
This month, Powell was one of two educators named 2010 Outstanding Young Educator of the Year by ASCD, formerly the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an Alexandria, Va.-based nonprofit, membership-based organization founded in 1943 that promotes leadership among educators through professional development programs and materials.
Powell and an elementary school principal in Newport News, Va., were selected from a pool of more than 250 nominees under the age of 40 from around the world.
Powell, who turned 40 in March and lives in Bowie, will receive a $10,000 cash award as well as access to the organization's professional development training opportunities and network of educators. He was recognized March 6 at the ASCD annual conference in San Antonio.
"That was pretty incredible, to know you are among the best teachers," he said. "It's an honor, and an honor I don't take lightly."
ACSD spokeswoman Melissa McCabe said the organization was especially impressed by Powell's efforts to involve fathers in school life, encourage his young students to think about college early, and blend environmental sustainability into the curriculum through "green" programs.
"We look for someone who demonstrates a commitment to educating the whole child," McCabe said.
Patuxent Elementary School Principal Judy Dent, who nominated Powell for the award, said she was not surprised that Powell won the award.
"We begin every day dialoguing about the direction we want to take our children in," she said. "There's nothing he's been asked to do that he has been unwilling to do or incapable of doing."
A former professional firefighter in Washington, D.C., Powell said he was drawn into teaching in 1995 by a desire to offer students an opportunity to succeed regardless of where they lived.
"Education is the civil rights movement of our day," he said. "Educating the child regardless of the children's background is what motivates me each and every day."
Powell received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of the District of Columbia in 1995 and earned a master's degree in education from Howard University in 2000. He said he is pursuing a doctorate from Howard University in education.
He started teaching math and science, subjects he said he believes "tap into [students'] natural curiosity." He became assistant principal at Patuxent Elementary School, a pre-kindergarten through sixth-grade school of about 570 students, in 2005.
"Instead of 30 students, now I'm able to touch almost 600 children's lives each year," he said.
In addition to his daily responsibilities as assistant principal, Powell has spearheaded the creation of four student-run school gardens; arranged for students to visit local colleges and experience higher education; and paid special attention to engaging students' fathers through workshops and special events.
"He's an amazing motivator," said special needs teacher Ronald Frazier, who worked with Powell on the outreach programs for fathers. "I'm extremely proud of him."
Powell said future plans include a school debate program and advocating for issues in the community that can have an impact on students, from health care to job opportunities for parents.
His long-term goal, he said, is to "serve as many people as I can."