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Hickory Elementary School Lauren Byrd named Harford County’s 2021 Teacher of the Year

Lauren Byrd, a first-grade teacher at Hickory Elementary School with 17 years of teaching experience, nine in Harford County Public Schools, was named the 2021 HCPS Teacher of the Year on Wednesday night.

“Mrs. Byrd illustrates the importance building relationships and creating an environment, whether in-person or virtual, has on encouraging and supporting students,” said Sean Bulson, superintendent of Harford schools.

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Lauren Byrd, a first-grade teacher at Hickory Elementary School, is a 17-year veteran educator and a finalist for the 2021 Teacher of the Year Award.
Lauren Byrd, a first-grade teacher at Hickory Elementary School, is a 17-year veteran educator and a finalist for the 2021 Teacher of the Year Award. (Ken Scheper/Courtesy Harford County Public Schools)

Byrd began her career with HCPS in 2012 at Roye-Williams Elementary School and currently teaches at Hickory Elementary School. She holds a master’s degree from Loyola University as a reading teacher and a bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education from Juniata College.

Byrd was nominated for Harford County’s Teacher of the Year by the Turner family.

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“Mrs. Byrd can inspire her students to ‘do hard things’ because she has herself modeled this in her role as an educator, serving not only the first-grade students daily in her classroom, but providing models for new teachers, serving on committees, and writing curriculum to benefit her colleagues in Harford County Public Schools,” said nominators Carl and Martha Turner. “She should be recognized as the 2021 Harford County Teacher of the Year due to her unwavering passion in meeting the needs of the individual student and the significant impact she has on the lives of young learners.”

Support for her nomination came from Hickory Elementary Principal Brad Stinar.

“Mrs. Byrd exhibits confidence, compassion, knowledge of content, high expectations, and empathy. She is fully immersed in the school community; she wants to see her students in her neighborhood, she wants them to see her, and continuously be a part of the broader school community,” he said. “This is all part of building strong relationships which foster strong academic achievement in her students.

“Mrs. Byrd can be found everyday standing at her classroom door, greeting the children, welcoming children into their shared classroom. She’s built a community of learners who love to be in that special space; that classroom has been transformed into a campground, tropical rainforest, the arctic tundra … whatever the space needs to inspire the 6- and 7-year-old students who are there,” he continued.

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“Every time I go into that classroom, I do not want to leave. What Mrs. Byrd is doing with her students is magical; highly effective indeed.”

As the Harford County Teacher of the Year, Byrd received a free lease of a new 2021 Nissan Rogue for one year courtesy of Jones Junction; a Dell laptop; a watch from Saxon’s Diamond Centers; and a big-screen TV from NTA Life, a Horace Mann Company. In addition, she was awarded multiple gift certificates, local merchant gift cards and $1,200 from Harco Credit Union, which was provided to all five finalists.

Byrd will now compete for the title of Maryland Teacher of the Year to represent teachers across the state as an education spokesperson.

The Harford County Teacher of the Year live event was virtual this year, and included approximately 200 invited guests and was open to all community members.

“This event provides an opportunity for the Harford County community to come together, to celebrate the teaching profession,” Bulson said. “We shine the spotlight on five outstanding finalists. Listening to their students share what makes them special is one of the highlights of the evening and truly a gift for each educator, as well as for each of us in attendance.”

The other finalists for the Teacher of the Year were: Kelly Ackley, a special education teacher at Southampton Middle School; Kerrie Bauer, a math teacher at Aberdeen High School; Kimberly Perouty, a third-grade teacher at Homestead/Wakefield Elementary School, and Sarah Scholl, media specialist at Havre de Grace Middle School.

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