Runkles '09, MAT '10 Named Teacher of the Year by St. Mary's County Public Schools

Submitted by Chuck Steenburgh on June 04, 2024 - 7:44 am
June 04, 2024
By Chuck Steenburgh

Lauren (Gill) Runkles, '09, MAT '10, was named Teacher of the Year by St. Mary's County Public Schools and is currently under consideration for the Maryland Teacher of the Year Award. Runkles has been teaching in the English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program at Great Mills High School since 2020; this is her 14th year in the classroom.

Runkles helped to organize and lead a coordinated effort at her school to develop customized class schedules to best meet the varied needs of multilingual students. This effort resulted in better academic performance and attendance for the multilingual students and promoted more acceptance from their English-dominant peers who came to value the linguistic diversity in the classroom (and even sought help on their Spanish assignments). St. Mary's County Public Schools had the second-highest percentage in the state of high school multilingual students who scored proficient on the MCAP Math Assessment and was the only county that met their performance target in the same category.

"This success was not achieved in isolation but through the combined efforts of a dedicated team," Runkles said of the effort. "It took determined ESOL teachers, a supervisor, our entire guidance department, building administration and teachers from every subject area at every grade level…it truly takes a village."

A math major with minors in Spanish and educational studies at SMCM - and certified in secondary mathematics via the MAT - Runkles was in the first cohort of students to take Professor Katy Arnett's experimental course that became EDUC 491: ESL Across the Curriculum. Runkles is one of several MAT alums who have since combined their content expertise with pedagogical expertise in making content curricula more accessible to students still learning English.

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