Linda Eberhart believes that all children can succeed in school regardless of their circumstances, and she spent 42 years working to make sure that happened in the Baltimore's most challenging schools. First as a teacher starting in 1970, then as an administrator and planner, Ms. Eberhart, who retired last week, has never shied away from any challenge that would improve learning opportunities for our children.
While teaching at Mount Royal Elementary/Middle School, she did what no one else thought was possible when her students were recognized for having the state's highest test scores in math. By offering after-school and Saturday learning opportunities, she showed how hard students were willing to work to do well in school. One parent, James Evans, said, "Ms. Eberhart's 5th grade class topped the state's charts in math, and in doing so, shattered a glass ceiling that only existed in the minds of those who believed poverty and race limited one's ability to succeed."
Ms. Eberhart packaged her teaching model so that other teachers could benefit and developed Math Works — a unique teacher-to-teacher learning community. Observers, who would sit in on one of many of her Math Works presentations, were usually amazed that more than 400 teachers, on their own time, participated so that they too could benefit from her experience. Math Works is now called Works and has been expanded to other disciplines such as science, literacy, and art — serving 2,500 teachers in the past year.
Shortly after his arrival in 2007, Baltimore schools CEO Andrés Alonso asked Ms. Eberhart to come to the central office on North Avenue where she became executive director of teaching and learning. A tireless worker, putting in more than 70-80 hours most weeks, she became the go-to-guy on matters of critical concern to the district. She was instrumental in the creation and ratification of the new teacher's contract and helped move the city schools toward full implementation of the new Common Core standards. When Mr. Alonso wanted stronger summer school programs to address some of the learning loss that occurs during the summer months, Ms. Eberhart put a program in place that, according to The Sun, was "hailed as a potential model for the country." Students in the program showed double digit gains in language arts and math.
Ms. Eberhart has received numerous awards and recognition for her accomplishments, including being named the 2002 Maryland Teacher of the year — the first and only teacher from Baltimore City to get that statewide recognition. Without a doubt, Ms. Eberhart will be remembered as one of the most influential city educators of the past decade. However, none of that matters as much to her as what happens in the classroom. James Evans summed it up best when he said, "My daughter entered Mt. Royal with relatively low math scores. After leaving (Ms. Eberhart's class), she was tested through a program at Hopkins — scoring within the top 6 percent in the nation in math." For Linda Eberhart, that is the reward that matters most.
James Campbell is a former member of the Baltimore school board. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.