Gale-Bailey Elementary School first-grade teacher Carol Eaton was introduced to teaching when she was an elementary school student. A teacher at her school took a leave of absence and Eaton, who was a fourth grader at the time, was asked to assist the substitute during reading lessons for first graders. She said although she knew from a young age that she wanted to be a teacher, that experience solidified her desire to have a career in education. “That experience confirmed my love of teaching and I have never wanted to do anything else,” Eaton said.
She strives to inspire children to love reading, make connections with mathematical concepts in their daily activities and become lifelong learners. Eaton’s passion for teaching is evident in her classroom, and she is well known among her colleagues for bringing out the best qualities in her students. For these qualities, Eaton was selected for recognition among her colleagues and was chosen as this year’s 2014 recipient of the Washington Post’s Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award.
Eaton said she was honored just to be nominated by her colleagues. “To me, finding out that my colleagues at Gale-Bailey thought enough of my contributions to our team to nominate me was a great honor. It is amazing to be recognized and rewarded for something you love to do,” she said. Her career with Charles County Public Schools began in 1985 at Mt. Hope/Nanjemoy Elementary School, where she taught first- and second-grade students for two years. Since then, Eaton has also served as a reading and math tutor and has been teaching first grade at Gale-Bailey for the past 11 years.
Gale-Bailey Principal Toni Melton-Trainor said Eaton is the perfect example of an exemplary teacher who takes great pride in her work. “Mrs. Eaton is highly regarded by our teachers. She is dedicated, thoughtful and a true professional. The quality of her instruction contributes to her students’ success. Mrs. Eaton is most deserving of this honor,” Melton-Trainor wrote in a nomination letter.
General Smallwood Middle School seventh grader Garrett Batchelor attended Gale-Bailey for elementary school and had Eaton as his first grade teacher. He submitted a letter in support of her nomination for the award and contributes his strong abilities in math to what he learned from Eaton. He said she encouraged him to challenge himself by using problem-solving skills, and taught him that hard work and dedication would help him reach his goals.
“Mrs. Eaton encouraged me to take my time and apply my unknown skills to those that were known. She did not allow me to give up, but always encouraged me to continue to work towards my goal. With the encouragement of Mrs. Eaton and my involvement in math enrichment teams, I know that I want to pursue a career that involves math,” Batchelor wrote in a nomination letter.
Not only is Eaton dedicated to the success of her students, but to the success of all children and staff at Gale-Bailey. She is supportive of schoolwide programs and initiatives and served as the first-grade representative for the school’s Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) team. Eaton has taught in the extended-day and summer programs and is active in the Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO). Additionally, Eaton coordinated the creation of math fluency kits that include games, flash cards and books for all first graders. She also sends packets of books home with students who may not have access to learning materials to ensure they have access to success at home. Eaton also willingly shares materials with her colleagues and was chosen to be part of the first-grade math curriculum writing team.
Pamela Grzyb’s son attended Gale-Bailey and had Eaton for first grade. She said her son enjoyed having Eaton as his teacher because she made learning fun and presented subject matters in ways that children would understand. “She is a wonderful teacher and is in tune with each student. She knows the subject matter and is able to present it to the kids in a way that doesn’t seem like work,” Grzyb wrote in a nomination letter.
Eaton credits her abilities as a teacher to the positive relationships she has with her colleagues, and her experiences in the classroom. Upon starting her career in education, Eaton said she was thrilled just to be able to live out her dream of being a teacher that she would have taught for free. “In my first year as a teacher, I never looked at my pay. It was just so thrilling to have the opportunity to live out what I dreamed of as a child, and what I worked so hard to achieve in college,” she added.
The Washington Post each year honors outstanding teachers throughout the metropolitan area through its educational foundation. A committee reviews nominations throughout the school system and one teacher is chosen to represent Charles
County in the program as its Agnes Meyer Outstanding Teacher Award recipient. The Washington Post Education Foundation in May will honor Eaton during a ceremony. She will be recognized by the Board of Education during their June 10 meeting.
Eaton has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park and a master’s degree in education and reading from Bowie State University, formerly known as Bowie State College. Prior to starting her career with Charles County Public Schools, Eaton taught at schools in Anne Arundel, Prince George’s and Talbot counties.