A Brunswick High School graduate who returned to Frederick County Public Schools as a teacher became one of five educators across the country to be given a national teaching award for excellence.
Casey Keyser, a third-grade teacher at Butterfly Ridge Elementary School, recently secured the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.
After graduating from Brunswick High School, Keyser completed education degrees at both Towson University and Mount St. Mary’s University. She has spent the past 11 years teaching in FCPS schools.
Keyser said she loves being able to teach in the community where she was raised.
“It’s been great because I am still able to connect with a lot of my past teachers even to this day,” Keyser said. “Being a part of this community and staying here and teaching has just been really incredible ... I feel much more connected to the community, so it makes my job so much easier to build those relationships with my students and families because I do [know] what it’s like to be in Frederick.”
The Horace Mann Award is one of public education’s highest honors, recognizing teachers for their dedication to the profession.
“These educators represent the best in public education through their passion for making a difference,” Sara Sneed, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation, said in a prepared statement. “Their schools and stories may be unique, but their dedication to educational excellence fulfills a shared commitment to keep the promise of public education.”
The NEA Foundation sponsors the award every year along with the Horace Mann financial services company, which serves educators.
Keyser won the award this year along with educators from Alaska, Ohio, North Dakota and Massachusetts. She was nominated by the Maryland State Education Association (MSEA).
Cheryl Bost, president of MSEA, said in an email that Keyser exemplifies teaching excellence.
“[Keyser] brings so much energy, knowledge, technological advances and overall care to the students in her classes. She truly loves her profession,” Bost said. “[She] is so deserving of this recognition and truly represents so many outstanding educators we’re proud to have here in Maryland.”
Frederick County Public Schools Superintendent Terry Alban agreed.
“I have had the pleasure of observing [Keyser] teach, and any student in her class is indeed fortunate. [Keyser] is an educational innovator and leader who always keeps the needs of students as the priority,” Alban said.
As part of the honor, Keyser will receive a $10,000 prize from the NEA Foundation. She said she plans to use some of the award money to purchase virtual classroom supplies.
Keyser said she was speechless upon learning of the distinction.
“This whole process has been just unreal and so humbling, and I’m honored. I don’t know what to say ... I couldn’t imagine ever being recognized like this,” she said. “I definitely didn’t do it by myself ... all of those teachers that inspired me to become an educator; it’s why it’s so easy to pour my heart and soul into my job.”
Keyser said she actually struggled as a student. But being able to help her students now and watching them grow is what makes her eager to return to the classroom each day. Winning awards are great, Keyser said, but they are nothing compared to becoming a meaningful part of her students’ lives.
“That first smile, that first, ‘Good morning, Ms. Keyser,’ is what makes it all worth it,” she said.