Veronica Chen

Ridgely Middle School student Veronica Chen, 12, works on her self portrait during a class run by Angela Rountree, who was recently named the Batlitmore County Teacher of the Year. (Jen Rynda, Patuxent Publishing / May 4, 2012)

The day after Angela Rountree was named Baltimore County Teacher of the Year, she was back in the classroom doing what she does best — encouraging students of all abilities and from all backgrounds to express themselves through their art.

The art department chair, who has taught at Ridgely Middle School in Lutherville for 17 years, was still reeling from the May 3 awards ceremony where Baltimore County Superintendent Joe Hairston named her the county's top teacher. Rountree was one of only six teachers nominated for the coveted title.

"I was touched by the great honor," she said while waiting for her seventh-grade students to arrive on May 4 and continue working on self-portraits. "I feel they appreciated what I'm passionate about. It makes me feel humbled."

Rountree was nominated by her principal, Susan Evans, who recognized Rountree for incorporating artwork of various cultures into her classes.


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"Students gain an understanding of other cultures of the world while learning art," Evans said.

Hairston echoed those comments at the May 3 ceremony. He said her students "make art that makes the world a more beautiful place and they also take action to make the world a better place."

Although Rountree grew up studying the great European Masters, she took a course on multiculturalism that helped her understand the works of Asian, Middle Eastern or African-American artists, or contemporary artists, who use their work to highlight social issues.

Having learned to broaden her artistic horizons, she now creates lessons that reflect a variety of cultures represented in her classroom and community.

"She is such a good teacher," said seventh-grader Indy Baskar, whose father is from India. "She tries to teach us about all artists, not just the main white ones."

As the 2012-2013 Teacher of the Year, Rountree will compete for Maryland State Teacher of the Year. She will also make numerous appearances throughout the county to promote teaching.

A native of Marion, Ohio, now living in Owings Mills, Rountree taught art at Dundalk Middle School from 1990 to 1995.