For those learning to write, mistakes are inevitable.
It’s an important lesson that Robert Scott seeks to teach students at Osbourn Park High School in Manassas.
According to the advancement placement seminar and research teacher, the writing process is similar to learning how to play basketball.
“At some point, you have to take the risk. At some point, you have to go out on the court and miss a whole lot of shots,” Scott said. “Teaching students how to write is exactly like that. They have to take the risk, they have to make mistakes.”
Scott, who has been teaching for more than 25 years, was named Prince William County’s Teacher of the Year last week.
His peers nominated him for the honor, which puts him in the running for The Washington Post Teacher of the Year.
“For the school it’s important, because he really is representative of a very talented group of educators and professionals that come to work and do their best for the students and our community,” Principal Neil Beech said. “So he really is representative of that group but at the same time a worthy recipient to be singled out for this recognition.”
Working with creative and talented teachers is one of Scott’s favorite parts of teaching in Prince William County.
“There are talented, really talented, creative, brilliant teachers working in our classrooms who are risk takers and they do try new things with kids all the time … The students have been saying to me, ‘What’s it like to win this award?’” Scott said. “I didn’t win anything … I’m working with brilliant people and … to have received this honor is — I’m humbled by it.”
Scott earned his bachelor’s in music from Colby College in Maine and his master’s in special education from University of Massachusetts, according to a release. He received his doctorate in educational leadership and policy study from University of Northern Colorado.
Scott’s peers aren’t the only ones who have noticed Scott’s teaching; it has also caught the attention of his students.
Senior Tinbite Kelemwork called Scott an “exemplary teacher.”
“He knows students, he knows us well — he knows how we focus, he knows what we focus on, how long he can get our attention for — and he caters to the students,” said Kelemwork, a senior. “He doesn’t force students to meet him, he allows himself to teach how the students learn best.”
Scott’s knowledge stands out to Spyridon Kaloudelis, who was in one of Scott’s classes last year.
“I’d just sit down and listen to him talk about different subjects and topics, and the amount of what he knows about each thing, you’re astonished by it,” Kaloudelis, a senior, said. “You’re like ‘Oh my gosh. I want to know as much as you know.’ And he’s such a great mentor, because he motivates you too.”
He has also helped many of his students become better problem solvers.
“When you sit in his class and you listen to him, you way of thinking changes,” Kaloudelis said. “You start thinking about problems and how to solve them in a way that you didn’t even imagine. His mentorship, him guiding us through these problems it unlocks doors of ‘I can take this avenue and solve this problem, I can take this avenue to solve another problem.’ And you surprise yourself.”
The help Scott offers students isn’t limited to the subject he’s teaching.
Scott has helped Senior Samantha Gordon with her college search. He also replied to several emails she sent him during winter breaking, including one on Christmas.
“I think what sets Dr. Scott apart is not only how he teaches in the classroom, but the ends he will go for you outside of the classroom,” Gordon said.
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