Loudoun County, Va. (August 25, 2014) – Megan O’Meara, an Honors English teacher at Park View High School, is the first recipient of an award for the development of curriculum for Honors English.
O’Meara won a county-wide competition to design the best units for a unit centered on the play “The Crucible.” O’Meara’s winning unit included a wide range of critical thinking skills.
O’Meara received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Rochester and a master of education from the University of Maryland, College Park. Before pursuing her English degree, she trained as a classical musician in Rochester, N.Y. O’Meara has special interests in creative writing and Shakespeare. Among her other favorite authors are Junot Diaz, Toni Morrison, George Orwell, Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Anthony Burgess and Langston Hughes.
O’Meara is receiving a $600 Amazon.com gift card courtesy of Hitachi Data Systems (HDS), which sponsored the awards. Susan Lynch, Senior Vice President of HDS, is a Loudoun County Public School parent. Lynch’s daughter, Halle, graduated from Woodgrove High School in June and was in one of the first classes to pilot the new curriculum in 2012-2013.
Karen Richardson of Freedom High School won $400 for second place in the competition, and Valerie Hargis of Heritage High School was awarded $200 for third place.
Three years ago, LCPS English Supervisor Dr. Michele Schmidt-Moore tasked a committee of veteran English teachers with developing a new approach to the honors courses for grades nine-11, which would increase the level of rigor and add more of a focus on critical thinking skills and higher-order thinking. The group developed a framework and several model units, but allowed flexibility for teacher autonomy and creativity in creating their own units.
During the last two years, the county has partnered with George Mason University to offer graduate courses to teachers to prepare them to apply these innovative new approaches in their classes. This coming year, all high school Honors English classes are expected to implement the new curriculum.