Friday, January 18, 2013

Crystal Award winner inspires Memorial High graduates and parents

A Memorial High Advanced Placement (AP) English and journalism instructor who led students to use words and phrases like “incredible” and “best teacher I ever had” to describe him has been named a Crystal Award winner by the Spring Branch Education Foundation.

The foundation-supported Crystal Awards Gala celebrates its 20th year on Feb. 8 at the Hyatt Regency Downtown. The gala benefits education and enrichment programs in Spring Branch ISD and the Houston Chronicle newspaper’s Readers are Leaders program.

The prestigious Crystal Award recognizes teachers who make a real difference and impact in the lives of their students. Four area Crystal Award winners were named this year.

Todd McCardle, a native of Vinton, La., earned a bachelor of science degree in English education from McNeese State University in Lake Charles, La., and then earned a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from the University of Houston.

Shakespeare fans can still hear the English major in the naming of his two dogs – Hamlet and Ophelia.

A seven-year instructor at Memorial High, he currently teaches English IV AP. McCardle directs staff editing and production of the student newspaper, The Anvil. He is Student Council sponsor, too. Before joining SBISD, he taught five years at Mayde Creek High in Katy ISD.

Memorial High parents and several former students praised McCardle for his passion for making others appreciate literature and deep reading, while also working with parents to ensure that their children gain the highest level of success possible.

Many students said that McCardle takes teaching to a higher level by individualizing his courses for each student and by creating lessons that grab the class’s attention.

Harvard University junior Robert Sauermann says that he believes that his liberal arts education at the famous Boston college actually began in McCardle’s classroom.

“I have Todd McCardle to thank for encouraging me to pursue my interests in literature and the arts. Without him, I don’t see myself choosing to write poetry or take a challenging class on contemporary theater my freshman year in college,” the Harvard student said.

University of California at Los Angeles student Stephanie Abiassi considers her current college address a tribute to McCardle, who tutored her on college essay writing. “I now attend UCLA, and I honestly believe that I have Todd’s guidance to thank for that,” she states.

Parent Leslie Larberg says that McCardle “inspired my boys, convinced them that reading could be enjoyable, mentored them. Todd was always available and willing to edit and critique college essays, resumes and applications.”

Her son, Chris Larberg, now at the University of Oklahoma, called McCardle the “best teacher I ever had.” In his class, students avidly read and discussed “Heart of Darkness” and other classic works of British literature.

“I wouldn’t call Todd McCardle a teacher,” Chris Larberg said. “I can’t think of a single day that he came into the classroom and taught anything. He never lectured. Todd McCardle didn’t teach, he inspired. He would stand at the front of the class, write on the board, read passages from books no one cared to hear, but everyone listened.

“It didn’t matter what the preconceived notion of the content was, when Mr. McCardle started speaking, everyone was hooked,” he said, adding “Todd McCardle isn’t just any teacher. He is an extraordinary presence.”

McCardle’s teaching colleagues cite his outstanding enthusiasm and energy, too. McCardle arrives at school early in the morning and brings an energetic and positive vibe to the entire English department.

“In 24 years of teaching, I have never had a better partner,” said Laura Kohlmaier, an English teacher at Memorial.

The Crystal Award is the latest, but not only, award on his resume. McCardle was a 2010 Fund for Teachers grant recipient, which paid for a literary tour of England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. He was awarded a PTA Lifetime Membership, and he received his third invitation from the College Board to score AP English Literature essays.

His wife, Jilliane, is an elementary school principal in Houston ISD. His mother and other close family members have been teachers and principals in Louisiana.

In addition to McCardle’s award, the Spring Branch Education Foundation will recognize three other teachers as Crystal Award winners at the upcoming gala. They are Pattie Franklin of Clear Brook High School in Clear Creek ISD; Alexander McLanahan, St. John’s School, Southwest Preparatory Conference; and Donna Palmer, Holy Trinity Episcopal School.

In addition to honoring Crystal Award winners, the event will also honor 46 SBISD educators who were named 2012 Teachers of the Year and two SBISD Principals of the Year.

To purchase tickets to this important fund-raising event or to find out more information, please call 713-251-2381.

1 comment :

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