DCSS Teacher of the Year Finalist: Timothy Hardwick

Timothy Hardwick is the Teacher of the Year at Radium Springs Elementary School.

It's hard to believe, but Radium Springs Elementary School's Timothy Hardwick didn't like history growing up.

"However, when I did my student teaching, I did my student teaching in history, and that's when the flower bloomed and I really started enjoying teaching history," Hardwick said.

What might be even harder to believe is that this is just his third year teaching after transitioning from the hospitality industry into education, and now he is Radium's Teacher of the Year.

When Hardwick moved back to the classroom, he knew exactly where to go.

"I attended Radium, kindergarten through fifth grade, and so it's as if I am really giving back to a school that really made me who I am today," he said.

Hardwick is a fifth-grade social studies teacher who realizes textbooks and study guides don't always cut it, so he and his students come up with songs and raps to help them learn their lessons.

"I find that students really do a great job when we approach education in ways that really interest them, and oftentimes, music is really the heartbeat of our younger generation," he said.

That tactic is helping turn some of the grades around in his classroom.

"He makes it all fun," fifth grader Andrew Torhez said. "I used to be very bad at social studies, but with him and all the raps he did. And he does more hands-on learning, not all, look at the paper and work."

If the excitement on his students' faces doesn't speak for itself when they're rapping about World War II or the Civil Rights Movement, then what those students have to say about their teacher certainly does.

"Well, he's the best teacher in the world. That's for sure," Torhez said.

"He cares about us," classmate Cindy Sontay added. "He wants the best for us. He treats us like we're his own, and so I'm really happy to have him as a teacher."

That's why Hardwick's focusing these students not just on their country's past but on their own futures.

"It is important that, when we have the opportunity to as teachers, we give our students the best that we can to make sure that they're steered in the right direction," he said.

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