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May 16, 2018

Blaire Conner innovative teacher of the year

Mrs. Conner has taught math at Liberty High School for a decade.
A Liberty High School math teacher received Fauquier County Public School’s Superintendent’s Innovator of the Year award for 2018.

Blaire Conner, who has taught for a decade at the Bealeton high school, received the first-time, $1,000 award.

Designed to recognize the outstanding efforts of a teacher who incorporates innovation into instruction, Superintendent David Jeck gave the award to Mrs. Conner on May 2.

Four teachers were named as finalists:

• Leslie Baccus, Fourth grade teacher, Bradley Elementary.

• Linda Correll, science teacher, Kettle Run High School.

• Janell Maszatics, Instructional Technology Resource teacher, Thompson Elementary.

• Cary Poe, Instructional Technology Resource teacher, Greenville Elementary.

They each received a $375 award.

The Apple Federal Credit Union Educational Foundation funded the awards.

Ms. Conner is, “a teacher who demonstrates innovation, a true growth mindset, and a 21st century approach to instruction,” Dr. Jeck said.

“She is willing to take risks, especially to empower students,” said Liberty’s Assistant Principal Lauren Milburn. “What separates Blaire from others is that she has laser-like focus when she tries something new.”

A native of Georgia, Mrs. Conner, 37, has lived in Fauquier County for 10 years.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Roanoke College and is working on her master’s degree in mathematics education from James Madison University.

Grateful to receive the recognition, Mrs. Conner deflected the praise to her colleagues.

“Everything I do in the classroom is owed to my amazing colleagues and administration, so I share this award with them,” she said. “They are truly some of the most amazing educators in this world.”

She currently teaches AP Statistics; Algebra, Functions, and Data Analysis; Probability and Statistics; and Teachers for Tomorrow at Liberty High School.

In the past, she has also taught Algebra, Geometry, Algebra II, Advanced Functions and Modeling, and Elementary Functions.

Mrs. Conner consistently weaves innovation into her instruction. One of her favorite innovative lessons deals with quadratic regression.

“Our students build catapults using popsicle sticks, clothespins, spoons, rubber bands, and tape,” she explained. “We then use those catapults to fling bright orange ping-pong balls. With a coordinate plane projected onto the wall, we use the slow motion video on our phones to record the ball in motion.

“Students then watch the video playback to record points the ball passed through on the coordinate plane. We then use these points to determine the equation of the quadratic curve of best fit that the ball traveled.”

Although Mrs. Conner admits she doesn’t have it all figured out, she vows never to stop taking risks.

“The world, and therefore our students, are constantly changing. We owe it to them to change with them and to do whatever we can to help them to reach their goals and to be successful. That's my motivation . . . them,” Mrs. Conner said.

She said her secret to success includes never giving up and always learning.

Mrs. Conner gets inspired by reading books, blog posts and Twitter posts from educational leaders such as George Couros, Jo Boaler, Alice Keeler, David Guerin, Jimmy Casas, Todd Whitaker, Ron Clark, Denis Sheeran and John Spencer.

Most of her free time is spent with her husband, Mark and watching their son, Braden, play baseball and basketball. She also loves to travel.

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