A Milton M. Somers Middle School teacher left a lasting impression on a former student who was recently named a 2017-18 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar at the University of Maryland.
Band teacher Richard Hood is the educator who had the greatest impact on Katelyn Turner’s academic achievement, the Maurice J. McDonough High School graduate said.
The Merrill scholar program recognizes academic accomplishments and the important role teachers have as mentors. To recognize the contributions of kindergarten to 12th grade teachers, the University of Maryland and the Merrill family is offering a $1,000 scholarship in Hood’s name to an incoming first-year student from a Charles County high school in Fall 2018. A celebration for Merrill honored is in November on the College Park campus.
Hood said he is extremely proud of Turner’s accomplishments. “She is truly a neat young lady,” he said. “And I can’t believe she picked me for this. I’m incredibly humbled.”
“Mr. Hood is a very perceptive man, and his attentiveness is apparent in his teaching style,” said Turner, a senior in Maryland’s College of Arts and Humanities. “I don’t think I ever considered Mr. Hood just a band teacher. He always embodied the spirit of a mentor, and proved himself as such by connecting with students outside of music. He always tried his best to understand us as people first and students second.”
“Ms. Turner was very focused,” said Hood remembering his former student. “I was impressed that she could synthesize information from many planes — academic experience to life experience together with music. She understood things at a depth you don’t see in many middle school students.”
It was Hood who encouraged Turner to take up the bassoon in the sixth grade. At first, she was confused. He wanted her – an African-American girl who at the time was shorter than the bassoon — to play an instrument that was predominately taken up by white males. “Why me,” she remembered thinking. By the time she was in eighth grade, it dawned on her. “I understood what Mr. Hood realized years before — I was more than capable,” Turner said. “I was talented. And I was focused. Mr. Hood saw that and believed in me, and in turn I began to believe in myself.”
The instrument was the perfect fit for a student like Turner. “I look for a certain mindset in a student to play the bassoon,” Hood said. “You have to be adept at math, you need to have a certain physical coordination … these are people that if you give them a puzzle, they will not put it down until it’s finished.”
During his 27-year teaching career, Hood has taught a lot of kids. There are those who are comfortable being among the crowd, and staying there. “Some like to hide in the herd,” he said. Bassoonists tend to stand out. “They’re not someone who’s afraid to be the only one doing something. They want to do something on their own, but still be part of a group,” Hood said.
Hood is among a group of educators who made an impact on Turner’s life. “I cannot earnestly reflect on the impact my educators have had on me without thanking the countless other who have shaped who I am,” Turner said, pointing out her former teachers Susan Steinmetz, Susan Eckerle, Ashley Hafera, Karen Rowledge, Leah Faris and Stephanie Walent.
“Never doubt the impact you have on your students,” she said to CCPS teachers. “Continue to empower them, especially your students of color, since you are the difference between their perceived limitations and their actualized potential.”
Turner entered the Honors College at Maryland in 2014. She is a double major, studying government and politics and philosophy. She minors in music performance and is a bassoonist in ensembles at the school. This year, she studied abroad in Chile and attended the University of Oxford’s Exeter College summer program. Turner is a research assistant for the University of Maryland’s Social Justice Lab, is an honors intern for the U.S. Department of Justice and was a field organizer for Van Hollen for U.S. Senate.
Turner is a standout person who will leave her mark on the world, Hood said.
“This is a young lady on the move,” he added. “She is so well rounded, well spoken, well thought. Whichever direction she decides to go; we will be seeing her name; it will have great relevance.”
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,500 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Marvin L. Jones, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.