Math teacher Brian Quinn insists on success from all his fourth-grade students at East Silver Spring (ESS) Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland. Responsible for math instruction and growth for the entire grade, Quinn uses school- and district-wide data to identify students’ gaps and adapt his instruction to make sure holes are plugged. Students play board and computer games, work together in small groups using cooperative learning strategies, and even create their own math games, designing the rules and writing instructions for their classmates to follow. Quinn is constantly looking for ways to innovate and engage all students, including those with special needs, who are fully integrated into his classroom. He leads weekly math intervention groups and creates a vibrant, stimulating learning environment in which students are willing to take risks. Seventy percent of his students reached proficiency on math assessment tests; the district has used Quinn’s small-group strategies as an example for its other elementary educators.
Quinn is a master relationship-builder who works effectively with everyone, including students, staff and parents. Children who appear to lack confidence and enthusiasm come to life in his classroom. Quinn connects with students through sports and other extracurricular interests. When students make poor choices, he talks them through the problem and provides a safe place for them to reflect. As a member of the ESS Staff Equity Team, Quinn attended training on equitable classroom strategies to enable greater student achievement and shared it with his colleagues. Educators from the building and district often observe in his classroom; Quinn mentors interns from nearby universities and facilitates vertical grade-level planning meetings to support math teachers at ESS in third, fourth and fifth grade.
A leader in the ESS community, Quinn chairs the Math Committee and is involved in the school’s STEM night, reading night and talent showcase. He solicits donations for the school carnival’s annual silent auction, building long-term relationship with local business owners and circling back with them to share the ways their donations have benefited the school and its students. A strong believer in the connection between physical health and student success, Quinn has coached Girls on the Run, captains the ESS staff softball and kickball teams, coaches a girls’ softball team, and participates in both staff-parent and student-staff basketball games. He is an ardent football fan, playing in an adult league and engaging students in pickup football games at every opportunity.
Quinn earned a bachelor’s in elementary education from Salisbury University in 2006 and a master’s in curriculum and instruction for middle school mathematics from the University of Maryland in 2013.
Press release: Helping 4th-graders conquer math earns Brian Quinn a $25,000 Milken Educator Award
"Why do I teach? The kids. Every day is new. It's exciting. You can't beat it. I mean, there's days where you're thinking this is the..." (read more)