Kimberly Burton-Regulski has been a teacher at Eastern Technical High School in Essex for almost 20 years, and she doesn’t plan on leaving any time soon.
In March, Burton-Regulski’s contributions to the school and its students were recognized when she was named one of six finalists for the Baltimore County Public School’s 2018 Teacher of the Year Awards.
Not just a mathematics teacher, she also is the department chair for mathematics, engineering, IT, and computer science and the “innovator coordinator” for the Eastern Tech Makerspace.
Burton-Regulski said she always knew she wanted to be a teacher and credits this to the great and inspiring teachers she had growing up in the BCPS system.
She laughs as she recalls a math teacher at Pine Grove Middle School saying, “she always gave us problems and would tell us that they were questions from a college class, so it made us feel super smart.”
Two years ago, Burton-Regulski was pivotal in keeping ETHS up-to-date with the creation of their own innovative Makerspace.
Once just a back room that was storage for old computers and automotive equipment, the space was given new life due to the grassroots efforts of Burton-Regulski, her family, and other ETHS faculty members who worked after hours to paint the space, put in new flooring, and transform it into a lab where students could research, design, and bring to light technological marvels.
The space was designed for the purpose that students would do research on real-world problems. For example, at the center of the room is an open area used to building and creating prototypes and upstairs in the loft area is equipment like 3D printers and a collaboration and presentation space. Downstairs is a separate communication lab for interviews and a room for textiles and craft room equipped with sewing machines and more.
She speaks excitedly about the projects her current students are working on. Several are working with physical therapists across Baltimore County to create devices for people with special needs. For example, one student is creating a back-lit “light board” to help a patient with visual impairments and another is creating a music soundboard for a student with motor skill issues that make them unable to play an instrument. The success of the Makerspace is just one way ETHS is preparing students for life after graduation.
“I think being here for so long I’ve been able to see the school grow and change,” she said.
She explained that when she started at ETHS in 1998, the focus was very much on the career majors while the academic side took a back seat. However, over the next few years, this shifted, with academics being more focused on and a successful AP program being built up. Even more recently, academics and career majors have been brought together, helping students excel in many, diverse, facets of their education.
“All of this works because the students work so hard and I think the faculty works really hard as well and I think that’s often overlooked.”
While she knew she was going to be nominated, she said it was “amazing” to learn she was one of the finalists. She said she will use this nomination to advocate and show off the work ETHS students and teachers have been doing.
“I put my heart and soul into Eastern Tech and our kids but I’d like there to be a voice about how valuable our magnet school is. I feel often its not valued as much, but it brings the students a type of diversity and engagement and that ability for them to do such strong academics and then still do a really strong career major is something we should be replicating.
Eastern Tech principal C. Michelle Anderson also a finalist for Principal of the Year.
The winning teacher and principal will be announced during a ceremony on April 25.