Runnymede teacher wins $2,000 touchdown from Ravens and M & T Bank

If the students in Susan Routson's Runnymede Elementary gym class on Monday enjoyed its version of the biathlon — a game involving tossing colored bean bags into hula hoops on the floor and sprinting around the gym — they loved what came next: pool noodle javelin throwing.

"Our students are working on running and throwing events as they get ready for our field day on Friday," Routson said, as lines of giggling students tossed wriggling noodles down the length of the gym.


Her students are not the only ones to appreciate Routson's instruction. The Baltimore Ravens and M&T Bank just awarded her the third annual Touchdown for Teachers grand prize, a $2,000 grant.

The prize has also earned Routson's class a visit from the Ravens' mascot, a player or coach and cheerleaders, on a date to be determined.

"The Touchdowns for Teachers is a program ... to honor teachers for their community service and their work within their schools," Routson said. "There were 400 applicants. ... I was chosen as one of the five finalists, and I won a grant of $2,000 to be put toward our charity."

That charity is local food bank Carroll County Food Sunday, which has been the focus of the annual service project of the students in Routson's class for 18 years — the majority of the 22 years Routson has taught at Runnymede. Each year they have participated, Routson's students have walked to raise funds for Food Sunday — this year on April 29. In recent years, there has also been a fundraising basketball game played between Runnymede and Taneytown elementary schools.

"We raise a lot of money for Carroll County Food Sunday with our walk. The kids are awesome; the community is great," Routson said. "Over 18 years, $147,000 was our total before we walked this year. We're going to be able to donate $9,000 [to Food Sunday]."

To be in contention for Touchdown for Teachers, Routson had to be nominated by someone else at Runnymede Elementary. Two people did so, one of whom was Lori Douglas, the school's instrumental music teacher.

"I nominated Susan for the Touchdown for Teachers award because for the last 18 years, she has been tirelessly working for Carroll County Food Sunday through our program for the walk every year," Douglas said. "She not only runs it, she works on corporate sponsorships. We've raised more than $145,000 over the last 18 years in this program — we're a line item on Carroll County Food Sunday's budget."

That hunger can affect us all is something Routson really understands, according to Douglas. There are people in the community who will benefit from the fundraising Routson's students engage in, and then there are even some of her students who will benefit from that same fundraising. The Touchdown for Teachers award, Douglas said, recognizes how Routson pulls it all together.

"She believes that everybody knows what hunger feels like — that it's something the kids can understand," Douglas said. "The Touchdown for Teachers program, when I saw it, had her name written all over it. She's just someone that represents community, represents her school well and puts it all together in our building."