Sligo Creek Elementary
School, Silver Spring
WHEN IT’S TIME TO say the Pledge of
Allegiance on a morning in May at Sligo
Creek Elementary School, students in
Genevieve Raze’s kindergarten class put
their hands on their hearts and recite it in
Last fall, just one of the 27 students in
Raze’s class knew a word of the language
as they entered her French immersion
class. Since that’s all she speaks—all day,
in every subject—many of her students
think she doesn’t know English.
Kindergarten alone is a big transition;
add a new language and it requires even
more creativity on the part of the teacher.
Raze, 49, is playful in class—dancing,
telling jokes and employing different voices
for characters as she reads. She and
her students use hats, props and stuffed
animals to act out stories with a wooden
puppet theater in her classroom. “Being silly
and funny, you really connect with them,” she
says. “In kindergarten, they are kind of little
sponges and they absorb the knowledge.”
Raze loved languages from an early
age, and her dream was to be an English
teacher in France, where she grew up.
Instead, she traveled to Oregon for
graduate school and became a French
teacher in the U.S.
After working as a high school teacher
for years, Raze switched to kindergarten
two years ago when she took the job at
Sligo Creek. Parents point to her teaching
ability and warmth as she helps students
make huge strides in understanding French
by year’s end.
Chi Nguyen of Bethesda, whose daughter,
Mai Lan Bui, was in Raze’s first class
at Sligo Creek, says this teacher makes
a lasting impression on her students.
“Madame Raze stands out from the others,”
Nguyen says. “She is compassionate with
the children and very patient.”
Now in second grade, Zamir Kanthor
brings his former kindergarten teacher
a card on Valentine’s Day and pops his
head into her class some mornings to say
hello. Says his mom, Farah Nageer-Kanthor
of Silver Spring: “She will always be his
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School, Rockville
EYTAN APTER DOESN’T MIND talking with students about hot-button topics. “It sounds weird,
but I love living in the discomfort area,” says Apter, a middle school social studies teacher
whose doctorate in education focused on teaching controversial issues.
Whether it’s talking about the inequities of the criminal justice system or reconciling
Thomas Jefferson’s ideals with the fact that he was a slave owner, the 41-year-old educator at
Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School believes it’s important to foster civil dialogue. “Too often,
students want to debate and ‘win’ without building consensus and understanding why we
engage in discussions,” says Apter, who adds that he wants students to develop a voice, but
also to handle heated debates.
Shevi Lerner, who was in eighth grade last year and had Apter, says some kids in her class
initially felt uncomfortable when they began talking about race. She says Apter helped ease
the tension by asking students to write down guidelines for the conversation, listing rules
such as: “We assume everyone has the best intentions, even if they say something and don’t
know it’s offensive.”
Apter has a knack for helping find common ground amid disagreements and high
emotions, says Marc Lindner, associate head of school. “His approach is measured and
thoughtful,” he says.
In creating lessons, Apter tries to make the material relevant and interesting. Students
in his eighth-grade civics class design a candidate’s election campaign, and they put the Big
Bad Wolf on trial in a court simulation.
Apter worked as an investment banker and in the entertainment industry for a few years
before becoming a teacher in 2002. “The ‘thrill of the kill’ that we called it in banking is
different,” Apter says. “In teaching, it’s when you reach a child, or a parent calls and says,
‘My kid is loving this.’”
BETHESDAMAGAZINE.COM | SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2018 157