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Extraordinary

EDUCATORS

ALISON STERN Green Acres School North Bethesda GROWING UP IN ENGLAND, Alison Stern held pretend classes for her dolls and volunteered at an elementary school as a teenager. Soon after fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a teacher, she found herself disillusioned with British education policies that limited her flexibility in the classroom. Stern came to Massachusetts in 1999 to work as an office manager at a summer camp, where she met her husband, Ed, a teacher. They married in 2004, moved to North Bethesda, and she began teaching fourth grade that year at Green Acres School, where she has worked since.

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“I’ve ended up in a school which is everything I believe in philosophically,” says Stern, 49. “It has the freedom for creativity and spontaneity. There is a big focus on meeting children where they are.” Known for guiding with a combination of structure and warmth, Stern uses big projects to get students excited about learning. A unit on rain forests incorporates lessons on plants, animals, native people and deforestation, and concludes with students writing fictional stories. Another on global celebrations culminates with a “World’s Fair,” in which students share traditions from different countries, dress in costumes and create models associated with the holidays. Samantha Friedman says Stern’s dedication enabled her son Eric to learn as much with remote instruction in the spring as he did in the classroom. Stern gave students personalized assignments,

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2020 | BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM

held individual online conferences, and reached out late on Friday afternoons if items weren’t turned in. “That’s a real level of commitment,” says Friedman, who lives in Gaithersburg. “She’s very caring, responsive and invested.” Every summer, Stern returns to work at the camp where she met Ed. The couple brings their two sons, both of whom attend Green Acres. In her cabin at night, she reads as much children’s literature as she can to find fresh recommendations for her students. “She loves making sure kids read and building relationships,” says Karen Buglass, a former fourth grade teacher at Green Acres who worked with Stern for 10 years. “She talks with kids about their interests and then books miraculously appear on the shelf.” —Caralee Adams

Profile for Bethesda Magazine

Bethesda Magazine: September-October 2020  

Bethesda Magazine's September/October 2020 issue features doctors, nurses and medical workers who are fighting to save lives during the pand...

Bethesda Magazine: September-October 2020  

Bethesda Magazine's September/October 2020 issue features doctors, nurses and medical workers who are fighting to save lives during the pand...