Madeline Hanington Credit: Photo Courtesy of MCPS

Hallie Wells Middle School teacher Madeline Hanington was named the Montgomery County Teacher of the Year on Thursday for her commitment to challenging and fostering students’ academic growth.

Hanington was one of three finalists for the honor, and will now be considered for the state Teacher of the Year award later this year.

“I am so proud to have Madeline Hanington as our MCPS Teacher of the Year,” school board President Shebra Evans said in a statement. “Her innovative instructional practices have yielded wonderful results with her students, helped them embrace a love of learning and built up their confidence.”

Hanington was honored during the school’s 17th annual Champions for Children event in Germantown.

Hired at Hallie Wells in Clarksburg in 2016, Hanington previously taught at Cabin John, Lakelands Park and Gaithersburg middle schools as an English teacher and content specialist.

She has been a teacher in the county school system since 1999.


The school system attributed a jump in state test scores to academic intervention programs Hanington crafted and implemented. She serves as co-sponsor of the school’s Junior National Honor Society and Lady Scholars, an after-school program that supports young women.

“Madeline Hanington exemplifies what we mean when say ‘All Means All,’” Superintendent Jack Smith said. “She, along with all of our honorees, are dedicated to seeing that our students fulfill their potential.”

Other finalists for the award were Maura Backenstoe, kindergarten teacher at Burning Tree Elementary School in Bethesda, and Teak Bassett, social studies teacher at Clarksburg High School.


The Marian Greenblatt Education Fund, a county organization founded in 1989 that recognizes “exceptional teachers,” named the finalists. Greenblatt served on the county Board of Education from 1976 to 1984.

Also recognized Thursday were several “rising stars” and education advocates.

Other honorees were:


• Brendan Kelly, instrumental music teacher at Albert Einstein High School, Greenblatt Rising Star Teacher of the Year

• Virginia Pantella, Science technology, engineering and mathematics teacher at Gaithersburg Middle School, Greenblatt Rising Star Teacher of the Year

• Celeste King, South Lake Elementary School Elementary School principal, Dr. Edward Shirley Award for Excellence in Educational Administration and Supervision


• Leslie Atkin, English composition assistant at Wheaton High School, Supporting Services Employee of the Year

• Cynthia Simonson, vice president of educational issues for the Montgomery County Council of Parent-Teacher Associations, Volunteer Champion for Children

• Strathmore, Partner Champion for Children Award.


Caitlynn Peetz can be reached at