Position: First Grade Teacher
School: Amidon-Bowen Elementary School
School District: District of Columbia Public Schools
City, State: Washington, District of Columbia
About the Nominee: Rachel Terlop was nominated by a colleague, Jennifer Knackert. This is the second year Ms. Terlop has been nominated for LifeChanger of the Year. She was previously nominated in 2015-16. LifeChanger is just one of the many titles Ms. Terlop embodies each and every day. Jennifer, who is an AmeriCorps member, was fortunate enough to share a classroom with Ms. Terlop for an entire school year. Ms. Terlop's passion for helping her students grow and reach their full potential is evident in her practices and positive attitude. It is unbelievable to watch her simultaneously take on all of the roles she has claimed, giving each of them the full attention and accountability they require.
As an educator, Ms. Terlop strives to be an open and engaging source of knowledge and academic support for her students. She constantly reinvents her teaching practices so as to provide her students with the best and most engaging lessons possible. Her vast ability to differentiate for her students reveals itself through her utilization of exercise balls as seats, writing with dry erase markers on the floor, hands-on science experiments, well-placed dance breaks and many more innovative practices she is constantly introducing into her classroom.
As a caregiver, Ms. Terlop understands the importance of building relationships with her students and their families. Her empathy and desire to make each student and their family feel welcome sets her classroom apart. In an area of DC where parent involvement is perceived as non-existent, Ms. Terlop has chosen to ignore these unfair assumptions. Her ability to connect with students and their families means that she is never short of a parent chaperone for a field trip or parent attendance at a Saturday reading in the park event.
As an advocate, Ms. Terlop doesn’t shy away from topics that others may feel uncomfortable engaging with, such as race, socioeconomic status and ability level. She recognizes her own privileges, and she not only advocates for her students, but strives to help them learn how to effectively advocate for themselves. She understands the detrimental impact of implicit bias on her students and works to mitigate it within her practices.
As a student herself, Ms. Terlop understands that no one ever knows everything, and that there is always something more to learn. Not only is she pursuing her Master’s degree while teaching, but she also understands the immense value of the lessons her students have taught her. She takes time out of her day to listen to them and allows their insight to shape her teaching practices and her classroom’s environment.
According to Jennifer, Ms. Terlop has a passion for education at her core unlike anything she has ever experienced before. Ms. Terlop is unafraid to challenge each and every obstacle put in her way and dance while she’s doing it. One doesn’t have to guess that she is a LifeChanger, because she has changed the lives of so many people, including Jennifer. Just by being herself, she inspires you to be the best version of yourself. She is a ground breaker, difference maker, and LifeChanger.