PORTLAND — Teacher Mallory Haar at Casco Bay High School is on a roll.
Haar has recently won three distinguished awards for outstanding teaching.
The latest is a $15,000 Lawrence W. O’Toole Teacher Leadership Award. She also won this year’s Common Good Award in the field of education from Bowdoin College and a Fulbright Teachers for Global Classroom grant.
Haar said she hopes the honors make her “a more thoughtful teacher and that I can help model to students that learning is a lifelong pursuit.”
She has been an English language learner teacher at CBHS for the past five years and said what she most enjoys about her job is the “privilege of working closely with students over many years, (and becoming) like family.”
The expeditionary learning school is “a singularly special community,” Haar said. “The faculty are deeply committed to supporting student growth as whole people, meaning they support students not just academically, but socially and emotionally as well.”
She called winning the three awards “humbling, because there are so many teachers in this city who do quiet, unglamorous, yet impactful work on behalf of students every day.
“(They) do not receive the recognition they deserve,” Haar said. “I’m vowing to take every opportunity to lift up the work of my colleagues from this point forward.”
The O’Toole award, which is a program of the Nellie Mae Foundation, “recognizes public high school teachers who are advancing student-centered approaches to learning,” according to a press release from the Portland Public Schools.
Haar is one of two teachers from Maine to win the award this year. She was selected for the honor because she “seeks to overcome education inequities caused by language barriers,” the press release said.
The Common Good Award from Bowdoin goes to educators who represent the core values of being aware of the big picture, embracing theory and practice, and living and modeling a spirit of inquiry, the school district release said.
The Fulbright grants “are given out for academic and professional achievement, as well as demonstrated leadership potential,” the release added. Haar will be one of more than 70 U.S. teachers who will travel abroad next summer to study, teach, conduct research and exchange ideas.
Haar said the chance to participate in the Fulbright Teachers for Global Classroom program is key because “we live in a globalized society (and) as a teacher of international students, I need to better understand how educational systems work in other parts of the world, so I can be more responsive to (their) needs.”
With the funding from the the O’Toole award, Haar said she plans to “focus on the opportunity gap (and work to) eliminate the structural barriers that prevent students of color and students experiencing poverty from achieving academic success.”
“I plan to use my O’Toole award with two ends in mind,” she said. “To bolster professional development for teachers who want to gain more strategies to disrupt inequities in their daily practice (and) to expand curricular resources to include historically marginalized voices.”
She said she plans to purchase texts on antiracist education and equity literacy for teacher-leader book groups, extend professional development on the history of the indigenous people of Maine, and assemble more resources on teaching Muslim American history.
“I believe students should leave high school with a rich understanding of how different social groups have participated in and contributed to the history of our country,” she added. “Simultaneously, I believe it is important that our students, I’m thinking of our Muslim students in particular, see themselves reflected in the content we teach.”
Overall Haar said her goals include “challenging our own ingrained notions about what is most important in education.”
Derek Pierce, principal at Casco Bay High, said Haar’s awards are well deserved.
“Mallory is one of this planet’s finest educators, and her students and colleagues are so grateful for the opportunity to learn alongside her,” Pierce said. She’s “an irresistible champion for her students and adept at inspiring them to ever greater feats of academic achievement and character.”
Xavier Botana, the superintendent of schools, said the School Department is lucky to have Haar and “many other outstanding educators on its staff. Ms. Haar is a wonderful ambassador for the profession and represents everything that is great about the people who work here.”
Mallory Haar, far left, an English language learner teacher at Casco Bay High School in Portland, recently won three distinguished awards for outstanding teaching, including a $15,000 Lawrence W. O’Toole Teacher Leadership Award.