Mark Andrews, the co-founder of the National Teachers Hall of Fame, flew to Baltimore from Emporia, Kan., to honor a teacher at Roland Park Country School. But first he asked an auditorium full of students to think for a minute about a teacher who has made a difference in their lives, inspired them and pushed them toward success.
Several in the auditorium whispered, "Mr. Brock."
David L. Brock, 48, science department chairman at the all-girls private school, learned Thursday that he was one of the five 2012 honorees to win induction into a society that Andrews called "the Oscars of education."
Students greeted the surprise announcement with a thunderous standing ovation that rendered Brock uncharacteristically speechless. He later said that he had to fight back tears.
"To have students leap to their feet and cheer for me tells me that I am valued by them," he said. "They have made me a better person for knowing and working with them."
Senior Natalie Polk said she never took to science until she entered Brock's ninth-grade biology class. She is now taking his Advanced Placement course and considering science as a career.
"He just makes it easy to understand," she said.
Senior Serene Mirza said, "His is the one class where it's so interesting you don't look at the time."
Classmate Bria Jones said she comes to class with questions that she hopes might stump her teacher.
"It never works," she said. "He always knows the answer."
Brock is the second Marylander to be inducted into the hall, founded 21 years ago on the campus of Emporia State University in what Andrews calls "Teacher Town." The hall now numbers 100 honorees from 36 states and Washington, D.C., including Paul Miller, a teacher at Ner Israel Henry Beren High School in Baltimore, who was inducted last year.
"Today, education that starts here at Roland Park Country School has been recognized nationally," said Jean Brune, head of the school, which has about 675 students in kindergarten through 12th grade.
She praised Brock's dedication, saying he "has transformed lives and continues to do so."
"He is accessible, interesting and rigorous," Brune said. "He sets high standards for his students and helps them get there."
Gerri Bohanan, a teacher at Coppin State University and a member of the selection committee that reviewed nearly 200 nominations this year, said that minutes into viewing a video of Brock at work in the classroom, she selected him.
"I could see his students were having that 'wow' experience," she said.
Brock, a Homeland resident who walks to and from work daily, said many teachers influenced him and inspired him to follow in their footsteps. If asked, he will rattle off several names from his high school years in Dayton, Ohio.
"Teachers were the saving grace of my life," he said. "As a teacher, I like to think I have made learning graceful."
He earned a bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a graduate degree in education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. He began teaching high school in 1989 in St. Louis.
"What you do with life needs to involve helping others," he said. "And making the world a better place."
Roland Park Country recruited him to launch its AP biology program in 1996.
"I have always been interested in equity issues, and females and science is one of those," he said.
The nomination brings with it a gold lapel pin and signet ring with the hall's insignia and $1,000 in materials for the honoree's school.
"The school knows that I will know what to do with that," Brock said. "This is the place where I can do good. This school is my family, and these students are my daughters."Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun