CRLS Teachers Recognized with Annual Faculty Distinction Awards

Zoe Fritz-Sherman, Metro Editor

For most seniors, graduation is a celebration of hard work, perseverance, and moving on to a new stage of life. But at CRLS, students also take time to acknowledge some of the most pivotal people in their development and success in high school, their teachers. On Thursday, June 6th, 2019, four teachers—Dr. Eva Lam, Mr. Duncan MacLaury, Ms. Melissa Chaney, and Mr. Ibrahim Dagher—were recognized for their especially notable work supporting CRLS students and were presented with Faculty Distinction Awards. For the last 13 years, Friends of CRLS has funded Faculty Distinction Awards for four teachers that the senior class decides had a particularly strong impact on their students. Although this year’s recipients all teach varying subject matter, they each are dedicated to helping their students and making CRLS a better place.

Dr. Lam is an AP World History and AP Comparative Government teacher at CRLS. “I have the good fortune of teaching two really interesting classes, and I think students have been engaged by the opportunity to study the big picture of world history and the nuances of different political systems,” Lam said of her students’ interest in her classes. “Also, they appreciate my jokes, I hope. … I hope that my students are taking what they learn in my classroom and applying it to their lives in school, too.”

Mr. MacLaury teaches US History at CRLS—he currently teaches US History 2 and will be teaching Critical Issues in US History next year. “I have developed strong relationships with many of [my students],” he said in regards to his nomination. “Both in and out of the classroom, I have tried to be supportive of their learning, growth, activism, and selves. For some of the students in the class of 2019, I have directly contributed to their well-being at school by being a support system and person to talk to, and for others, I have been able to provide them [with] an entry to enjoying history class.” MacLaury has also been an active member of the BSU. “I have tried to support the students of the Black Student Union as best I can as a white ally,” he reflected. “Mr. Dua’s room, where the BSU holds its meetings, is next to mine and so in some ways I have been able to be supportive of the students through proximity.”

I have the good fortune of teaching two really interesting classes, and I think students have been engaged by the opportunity to study the big picture of world history and the nuances of different political systems.”

— Dr. Eva Lam

Current Arabic, former history, and future Global Civics teacher Mr. Dagher is the advisor of both the Arabic and UNICEF Clubs. “Ultimately, [school] is about the students. We need to keep engaging our students, not only to educate them on the topics we teach, but to help them build stronger personalities and characters,” Dagher said. He is constantly updating and improving his curriculum and trying to develop new content for his classes. “Good teachers create a safe environment and provide the context and background information to facilitate respectful and honest conversations among their students,” he said.

Ms. Chaney is a Foundations of Art, Studio Art 1, Studio Art 2, and AP Studio Art teacher, and will be piloting a sculpture class next year. “Something that I try to do is to create an encouraging and positive space where students feel respected and cared for. I think this helps them take creative risks, show vulnerability, push themselves to try challenging things, and develop their artistic voices,” she said about her teaching. Chaney has high hopes for CRLS in the future and believes that art can be a tool to improve the community. “I hope to continue doing art collaborations and to add more art to some of the public spaces at CRLS to address things that our students and our community care about,” she commented. “I think these sorts of things increase the visibility of the visual arts at CRLS and help our school overall.”

While they are only a small sample of all educators at CRLS, each of these four recipients of the 2019 Faculty Distinction Awards have helped their students grow in unique ways. “We need to support students to become open, fair-minded, independent freethinkers, driven by inquiry and sound principles, and resistant to any herd mentality or prejudgment,” Dagher concluded. “Good teachers don’t indoctrinate; they support their students with the resources and safety they need to engage in critical thinking and develop their own opinions.”